Significant restructuring of the Maritime car-park in Paihia will cause disruption there between 20 August and 23 September.  Council’s commercial trading and asset management firm Far North Holdings is changing the layout of the area to improve commercial vehicle flow, boost traffic safety and enhance pedestrian access to the wharf.

The traffic island in the middle of the car park will be expanded to allow bus passengers to congregate there with luggage instead of blocking the footpath along the front of the Maritime Building. Two shelters will be added to the space and improved lighting will enhance safety and security at night, as well as the overall ambience of the area.

Buses will park on the south (town) side of the traffic island while ‘authorised vehicle’ parallel parking along the northern (waterfront) side of the car-park will allow smaller shuttles to drop off and pick up along the building. This ‘authorised vehicle’ parking will convert to public parking in the evenings.

Five new 30-minute public parking spots and a parking space for disabled drivers will be created to replace the six spots taken by the new bus parking area, and there will be three dedicated taxi parking spaces.

There will be two ramp access points to the pavement for wheelchair users and those pushing prams.

Dedicated goods vehicle parking spaces and loading zones will service the needs of local businesses and wharf users. Those spaces closest to the foot of the wharf will be staggered to get rid of a pedestrian pinch-point currently impeding access.

Signage will be installed in the area to direct drivers to the main Paihia car-park off Williams Road.

Far North Holdings project manager David Penny apologised for the inconvenience that the construction will create. Drop-offs and pick-ups will still be possible but use of the car-park will be limited.

He said it was something that had to be done. Traffic use in the car park had become “a bit of a free-for-all”, causing logistical problems for local businesses, tour operators, visitors and residents alike.

“The challenge has been to meet the needs of a wide variety of businesses and people within the confines of the existing space,” said Mr Penny.

“The new layout will streamline traffic flow considerably. School-bus drop-offs will be safer, traveller convenience will be enhanced and shuttle traffic will be less disruptive.”

Separately, Far North Holdings will be resurfacing the Williams Road car-park. This will take place once work on the Maritime car-park is complete. It plans to realign the surface contours through the low centre-section of the carpark to ensure good water runoff from the area. Potholes and damage to the pavement surface will be repaired as part of this process.

Note: a pdf of this plan is available on request

We are expanding the Bay of Islands Airport terminal building and modernising the facilities here. The bigger, better and altogether lovelier airport will have roomier departure and arrival areas, and a separate luggage collection area.

The terminal upgrade project is expected to cost $4.75 million. This includes a $1.75m grant from the Provincial Growth Fund that has enabled the inclusion of a baggage screening area to future-proof the new terminal against requirements for such a facility by CAA. Passenger numbers have grown by a third since Air New Zealand started flying larger aircraft on the Auckland-Kerikeri route, with a record 110,115 people flying into or out of the airport last financial year (1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018).

More details available here.

Paihia Wharf is one of New Zealand’s busiest, in terms of passenger traffic, after those in Auckland’s Viaduct. It is by far and away the most important piece of infrastructure in the Far North district after our roads and our electricity network. It underpins the Bay of Islands’, and therefore Northland’s, tourism economy.

The wharf is the gateway infrastructure for hundreds of thousands of tourists each year wanting to experience the Bay of Islands. It is our marine transport hub. Without it the economy and the Bay of Islands’ attraction as a destination would be severely impacted. It needs to be looked after, cared for and upgraded as necessary.

The wharf is exposed to a wide range of elements as well as, of course, the sea. The existing infrastructure is worn and in average to poor condition. The main components of the structure were built in the 1990s using mainly steel pontoons which rust, have high maintenance costs and are reaching the end of their usability.

Furthermore, it was never designed for the demands that are now placed on it. Today there are 38 maritime businesses all operating from the wharf, it is the terminus for the Paihia to Russell passenger ferry, and charter vessel and cruise ship passengers comprise the bulk of more than 1.3 million movements across the wharf each year.

Income generated by the wharf covers maintenance but not capital replacement or upgrade.

The upgrade funded by the PGF will enable Far North Holdings to widen the main wharf walkway which is currently heavily congested three times a day. This will result in a much more open and pleasant experience, allowing the public to better enjoy the wharf.

A public dinghy dock will be built, and an additional two pontoons installed to provide four extra berths. A sewage pump will be installed on the fuel jetty to relieve pressure at the Opua pumping station and to encourage vessel masters to pump out holding tanks there instead of at sea.

Consent for this work, much of which is permitted activity, has been lodged. Dredging consent is already held. We envisage a six-month construction period over the 2018 winter period to avoid inconvenience to wharf users and the customers of the businesses operating here. Work is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Far North Holdings is consulting with the Russell community about proposed changes to the building on Russell Wharf. Click here for information and plans.

Russell Wharf serves as the community’s principal connection to the Bay of Islands tourism industry and one of its key access points to the rest of the country. It is the community’s most important piece of infrastructure apart from its roads, sewage and electricity supply.

Russell has a rich maritime history and is one of the Bay of Islands’ key tourist attractions. About 850,000 passengers each year use the ferries and commercial tourism services that operate from here.

The wharf plays a key role in many events which take place here each year. These include:

  • Coastal Classic
  • Millennium Superyacht Cup
  • Russell Birdman
  • school swimming sports
  • sports fishing events
  • Paihia to Russell Ocean Swim

To date all maintenance and development of the wharf has been funded by Far North District Council, Far North Holdings and the community itself.

There is an active Trust (the Russell Waterfront Trust) that provides support and guidance on the wharf’s development and maintenance.

Part of the wharf’s existing infrastructure is built around the original old timber piles and provides low tidal landings which are unsafe and of not much use.

An upgrade to Russell Wharf has been designed in consultation with, and with the full knowledge and oversight of, existing tenants and the Russell community in the form of the Russell Waterfront Trust. It includes:

  • replacing low tidal landings with floating concrete pontoons
  • removing the fixed timber landing jetty and replacing it with a concrete pontoon
  • a new dinghy dock
  • a wharf extension to the west for more visitor space and improved passenger flow
  • a sewage and water service across the fuel pontoon.

The sewage service will not be available for charter operators based in Paihia, where pump-out facilities are also being made available as part of today’s funding announcements.

The PGF grant that will enable this development does not include the $900,000 already being invested by Far North Holdings and the Far North District Council to replace the main commercial pontoon, which recently failed, and re-develop the information centre and café building.

All work is expected to be completed by December 2018. Much of the work is permitted without Consent as we will simply be replacing existing structures. The wharf extension and the dinghy dock will need Consent.

After more than 25 years of running its operation from the former MAF shed at the bottom of Opua wharf, the R Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust really has outgrown the facilities. It has been difficult for the Trust to meet and greet the 16 voyages each year, particularly in adverse weather conditions. The makeshift tents it has had to put up on the wharf for maintenance projects were also unsuitable during bad weather, making life difficult all round.

As the Trust’s landlords, we have agreed to build the Trust a new shed which will provide decent office facilities for the youth team, a space for crew meetings, and a large space big enough for spars to fit in during maintenance. There will also be sufficient shelter pre- and post voyage so families don’t have to stand on the wharf in the rain.

We have been working on the project with the Trust for some 18 months following their original request for space more appropriate to their needs.

Dismantling of the old building, formerly the old incinerator building going back to the Harbour Board days, started today.

A contract has been let for the new building and that work will start in the next two weeks. We expect that the Trust will be able to move into the fully completed building in October, although parts will be completed in stages.

FNHL and the Trust are pleased to have been able to work out an arrangement that helps secure the long term future for the R Tucker Thompson in the Bay.

Events and community facility

Far North Holdings was asked by the local organisers of the 2019 Tuia – Encounters 250 commemorations of the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s first landfall in Aotearoa to provide a hosting and events platform for the regatta.

This is a legacy project which will support and encourage other revenue-generating events in the Bay of Islands, such as the recent Tall Ships Regatta and the Millennium Cup superyacht racing event held in conjunction with NZ Marine and ATEED.

It will also extend the way in which the Opua community is able to use the wharf. Far North Holdings intends for it to become another venue option for Opua community events and initiatives of all sizes.

Along with the new and improved facilities at the marina we hope that the pontoon will become another drawcard that enables the local community to make better use of, and get improved enjoyment from, the Opua waterfront.

Supporting development of the Opua marine services hub

Having a facility like this in Opua will be a significant step forward in our strategy of developing the port into one of the South Pacific’s leading marine service hubs, along with all the attendant employment, wealth creation and social benefits this brings with it.

The pontoon will enable the Bay of Islands to host and service superyachts to an extent that is simply not possible today.

The absence of purpose-built regional facilities limits the interest in New Zealand as a destination among superyacht owners and skippers and discourages them from cruising New Zealand waters.

Demand for this hosting and servicing is expected to be substantial in the lead up to, and during, the America’s Cup. There are more than 30 superyachts already registered to attend, and seeking berthage for, the America’s Cup build-up.

Around 160 superyachts are predicted to pour into New Zealand in the 2020-21 summer; each spending on average $2.7m during their stay, according to a report carried out by NZ Marine, the industry association.

It forecasts an injection of $436m into the New Zealand economy from superyacht owners, staff and guests during the Cup period.  Economic benefits to Opua, the Bay of Islands and the Far North district as a whole could include:

  • large local daily spend by superyacht owners on items such as tourism and leisure services, and entertainment and hospitality (figures vary but are always substantial)
  • significant longer-term spend by crew, clients, friends and family
  • substantial provisioning and fuel expenditure
  • boost to perception of the Bay of Islands as a desired destination for superyachts
  • ancillary investment potential in local businesses, industry and property

The new concrete pontoon will be 120 metres long and four metres wide. It will sit to the eastern side of Opua Wharf and will extend out as far northwards as the existing boardwalk on the western side.

Far North Holdings already holds the Consents necessary for this project. Work is expected to be complete by the end of the year, subject to contractor availability and the programming of construction at Paihia and Russell wharves which will be the priority.

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.

For more information please click here.

The town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands is set to be transformed through the creation of a new arts, culture and environment Centre that celebrates the town’s connection with Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the rich culture in the area.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser built the now world-famous Hundertwasser toilets with the local community and this, his last and only building in the southern hemisphere, opened in 1999, just months before he died.

The project’s instigator is the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust, which established the vision in 2008 and has a clear charitable charter. The Trust is working in partnership/co-governance with Ngati Hine to create a truly unique visitor experience for locals and visitors alike, with a ground floor interpretive centre and memorial to Hundertwasser, a first floor gallery and community workshop, and a viewing platform looking out across the park. The Centre is to be officially known as the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Centre, Te Hononga, the joining of cultures.

Far North Holdings has worked closely with the community and played a central role in enabling and facilitating the project, forming a Project Partnership Group with the local Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust, Te Runanga O Ngati Hine, Kawakawa Business and Community Association, Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board, Northland Regional Council and the Far North District Council.

This economic regeneration initiative will enhance the town’s ability to benefit from the already significant flow of visitors attracted to the Hundertwasser Toilets, the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway and the Twin Coast Cycleway.

Te Hononga will serve an estimated 350,000 visitors a year (more than 250,000 visitors already visit the existing Hundertwasser Toilets each year). New public amenities will relieve pressure on the original Hundertwasser toilets ‘artwork’ and provide an enhanced visitor experience, increasing the length of time spent in Kawakawa. The project will also significantly improve infrastructure, parking and amenities at the busy SH1 and SH11 junction. The proposal also aims to connect with the Twin Coast Cycleway, rerouting the already busy and congested SH1 trail onto a much safer and more scenic route through the Hundertwasser Park.

The proposal sees demolition of the existing building adjacent to the Hundertwasser toilets, opening the site to a new town square and civic space, and to the community park at the back. This will make it safe and accessible for families to use, as previously it was not visible from the main road. It will also provide a real sense of place and community in the centre of town.

The Far North District Council will relocate the public library and service centre into the new centre, ensuring good community use and ownership of the development and providing a sustainable anchor tenant for the project.

The Centre will be a showcase of environmental building and design. A wider kaupapa of arts, culture and environment will be at the heart of the centre, its exhibitions and community programmes run by the Trust and Ngati Hine.

Facilities will also be developed for cyclists and freedom campers. These will include bicycle racks and coin-operated ablution facilities such as 24/7 showers and toilets.

The community-driven initiative has been 18 months in planning and has required negotiation with multiple landowners. It now enjoys the firm support of the community, iwi, FNDC and NRC.

Previously there was no acceptable access arrangement to this land that would allow the development to proceed. By working with an adjoining landowner, who was previously unable to develop his site as NZTA would not permit access/egress from State Highway 1, we have formulated a solution acceptable to all parties. A one-way system will be developed whereby access is through the landowner’s site and egress will be through the FNDC site.

The improved coach and car parking at the rear of the site, owned and funded by Far North District Council, will ease congestion on SH1. It will allow coaches to be unloaded safely, and visitors will have access to the Kawakawa high street through the town square/atea.

It is anticipated that cyclists and other visitors will spend longer in Kawakawa as a result of this unique building, the landscaped park and the town square/atea. This will boost revenue to many local businesses, provide a cultural experience in the heart of Kawakawa and serve the wider Bay of Islands and Mid and Far North communities.

It will aid the creation of a regional Hundertwasser tourism circuit linking the Whangarei Museum, the Kaurinui development (where Hundertwasser is buried) and the original toilets/and Te Hononga in Kawakawa. 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 real foundation of the project is the community. Community ownership and use of the development is fundamental to its success. FNHL and the project partners have engaged with all sectors of the community. 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.

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