Continued growth at Port Opua, New Zealand’s largest clearance port, has led to the expansion of the Bay of Islands Marina, from 250 berths to 400.

The expansion will give boat owners ready access to short and long-term berthage and an expanded array of hard stand services.

The marina expansion project includes new buildings, a board-walk frontage and a landscaped recreational area. This will include seating, barbeques, a performance and entertainment stage and a play zone for children. The company aims to transform the land-based part of the marina from the rather sterile, industrial place it is at the moment into a venue that people will enjoy and bring their families to.

We want to turn this place into one of the main centres for our community. Somewhere with something for everyone; the people who live and work here, the people who want to berth here, and the businesses who’ve set themselves up here. That’s one of the reasons we have consulted so widely with the people of Opua and with hapu and iwi.  The result of this effective and genuine engagement is a project that has the blessing of people and groups from a variety of backgrounds and interests. Indeed, one of the accomplishments of this project that we have been most proud of has been the engagement and partnership that has been developed and fostered between hapu, iwi and Far North Holdings.

An economic report commissioned by Far North Holdings from Auckland-based consultancy ME Economics indicates that the wider financial benefit to the region is in the order of $23m a year from Year Five, when the marina becomes fully operational. And research conducted by the Opua Business Association indicates that businesses in the town have forecast a 44 percent growth in turnover and an estimated 60 new positions as a result of the development.

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The new commercial building under construction at Opua is one of three buildings approved as part of the original consented marina expansion. These will provide services to meet the needs of both the local community and the increased number of international and domestic boats visiting Opua and the Bay of Islands.

The new building has been designed to maximise the benefits of the location. It will be the new home of the Marina Café, its wrap-around decks providing a good view of what’s happening around the marina and connecting directly to the boardwalk.

There will be a larger retail space at the rear and three apartments on the first floor overlooking the marina.

Expect significant transformation of the Opua waterfront over the next six months as the reclamation is levelled and seeded to create swathes of green landscaped and benched areas along the boardwalk. Landscaping and pedestrian and cycle links will be developed around the building to make the marina as family friendly and accessible as possible.

A new sealed car park will replace the old metalled car park area. This will improve the visual appearance of the area and reduce dust. It will also reduce traffic conflict as it will be clearly marked out.

The town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands is set to be transformed through the development of a major Visitor Centre that exploits the town’s connection with the celebrated artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

This economic regeneration initiative will enhance the town’s ability to benefit economically from the already significant flow of tourist traffic attracted to; the Hundertwasser Toilets, the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway and the Twin Coast Cycleway.
FNHL has worked closely with the community and played a central role in enabling and facilitating the project, known as the the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Visitors Centre (Te Hononga). We have been instrumental in sourcing and co-ordinating funding for the project.

It will serve the 300,000 plus people who already visit the existing Hundertwasser Toilets each year, and will allow the original toilets to become a work of art rather than a functional convenience for public use. It will also serve the Twin Coast Cycleway, which we are working with FNDC to take off SH1 and onto a much safer and more scenic route through the development.

A workshop will be co-governed by Ngati Hine and the Hundertwasser Trust to promote local art/craft/ecological/environmental skills.

A gallery will hold personal memorabilia of those people whom knew Hundertwasser personally

The community-driven initiative has been 18 months in planning and has required negotiation with multiple landowners. It now has had the full support of the community, iwi, FNDC and NRC to get to this stage.

The project proposals as they stand will see the demolition of the existing building adjacent the toilets to open up the park at the rear of the site and by creating a town square in this location (adjacent the Hundertwasser toilets) the square will open up and ‘pull’ all this land into the town centre.

This will make it safe and secure for families to use, as previously it was not visible from the main road.

The workshop and gallery will be anchored by the library and i-site and will ensure good community use of the development. The building will be entered via the Atea of the town square.

A café will provide refreshments for people visiting the Hundertwasser toilets and serve customers of the library/workshop and gallery.

Facilities will also be developed for cyclists including bicycle racks and a repair shop.

Previously there was no acceptable access arrangement to this land that would allow the development to proceed. By working with Mr Patel, an adjoining landowner, who was previously unable to develop his site as NZTA would not permit access/egress of SH1, we have formulated a solution acceptable to all parties. A one-way system will be developed whereby access is through Mr Patel’s site and egress will be through the FNDC site.

The coach and car parking at the rear of the site will ease congestion on SH1. It will allow safe unloading of coaches and the visitors will have to pass the new project traverse the Atea and town square into Kawakawa. This will provide a new experience to ensure they stay longer and spend more within the town and more importantly create a new memorable experience.

The project adds cumulatively, with the likes of the cycleway and railway, to the attraction of Kawakawa as a destination, and will help increase visitor numbers.

The impact of the predicted numbers that will cycle the twin coast track alone is significant and the fact that we are bringing the cycleway through the development allows each to trade off the other.

The added time cyclists/tourists will stay as a consequence of this unique building, the landscaped park, town square, the original toilets etc will increase revenue to many local businesses.

It will aid the creation of a regional Hundertwasser tourism circuit linking the Whangarei Museum, the toilets, the visitors centre and Kaurinui. This could be promoted both domestically and Internationally

It will take advantage of the growth in cruise ship numbers in the Bay of Islands, and will become part of the coach circuit created for these tourists.

The workshop and its ability to promote art/craft/business growth will serve local individuals and businesses.

It will also encourage new and existing businesses to invest in Kawakawa’s development, confidence and transformation. Mr Patel is a good example; he will be developing two shops if the project proceeds.

The real foundation of the project is the community. Community ownership and use of the development is fundamental to its success. FNHL has engaged with all sectors of the community and across all age groups. Everyone will have some involvement in the design and development of both the town square and the adjoining park to ensure they feel part of what will be a significant transformation.

People are a product of their environment and the residents of Kawakawa are 100 percent in support of this project.

Hokianga tourism growth

Far North Holdings has entered into a commercial agreement with the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Hokianga to redevelop and expand its accommodation. We will build 10 high-end units on adjacent land which we will own and lease back to the hotel.

Construction is taking place in two phases. Work on the first 10 units has started and is expected to be complete by December this year to cater for the influx of summer visitors.

The units will have a kiwi bach theme. They will appear simple yet elegant from the outside but will have five-star interior design, furnishing and facilities.

This is a sales and lease-back joint venture. It will allow an existing solid West Coast Northland business to grow and contribute further to the local economy while expanding our commercial asset base.

Shane Lloydd, owner of the Copthorne Hokianga, said the business had ambitious plans to take advantage of an “unprecedented” growth in Northland visitor numbers but wasn’t able to make these happen without a JV partner.

We are very happy to be this partner. This is a solid commercial venture rooted in sound economics. It ticks all the boxes that we use to evaluate projects that we become involved with. It has commercial benefits for Far North Holdings and the ratepayers of our district. It has economic benefits for Omapere, Opononi and the South Hokianga area generally. And it is of significant social benefit to this part of our region too.

It will certainly strengthen the Far North’s tourism offering on the west coast.

The deal complements our previous investment in the commercial infrastructure of this part of the district, in the form of the iSite, café and 4Square building in Opononi. It is the second such build/lease arrangement we have entered into in recent years, the previous one being the ultra-modern boat-building and paint shop facilities we built on the site of the former Ashby’s Boatyard in Opua, now occupied by Bluefix Boatworks.

Enabling and empowering Far North businesses is very much part of Far North Holdings’ brief. We invite any business owners who have projects they think we might be able to help with, to get in touch. The only proviso being that such projects would have to offer commercial, economic and social benefits for Far North ratepayers.

Hokianga tourism growth