Aquaculture investors sought to mussel inn on shellfish production property
A large chunk of land once identified to become the biggest commercial aquaculture plant in New Zealand has been placed on the market for sale.
The 7760 square metre industrial-zoned waterfront site at Awatoto just south of Napier fronts directly onto the Pacific Ocean. Part of the land previously housed burgeoning paua rearing and production plant Paua Fresh which burnt to the ground in 2014.
While the well-established and growing Paua Fresh farming facility was totally destroyed, its heavy-duty saltwater pump and pipeline stretching some 100 metres out to sea remain intact. The nutrient-rich sea water offshore was pumped over the shellfish in large indoor pools and then recirculated back out to sea in cycles.
Now the freehold land and buildings remaining are being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Napier, with tenders closing on March. Bayleys Napier salespeople Daniel Moffitt and Sam MacDonald said Awatoto zone was an established aquatic-based industrial hub.
The land for sale at 530 – 550 State Highway Two sits immediately beside the Chinese-owned Pure One bottling plant set up last year to export up to 405.6 million litres of crystal clear spring water to the Asian market annually. Another natural spring bottler, Jess and Tae's Water, also operates from Awatoto, with consent to package up to 786 million litres of water annually – most destined for the Indian market.
The Pure One automated bottling plant and warehousing sits on what was previously a commercial sea horse farm and tourist attraction which closed some 10 years ago. Sea horse is a Chinese delicacy used in liquor – in the same way worms are found in tequila – and also ground up and sprinkled over food.
Mr MacDonald said the mechanical and landscaping infrastructure at 530 – 550 State Highway Two was in place to re-establish either a paua rearing and processing plant, a sea horse rearing and processing plant, or a combination of both… all with an eye to the lucrative international market.
“Trade with China has grown substantially over the past decade – through a combination of both growing consumer demand for our primary produce from within China, and Chinese investment capital coming into New Zealand to meet that demand in a vertical supply model,” he said.
“As we have seen with wine, and most recently apples and honey, there is huge demand for New Zealand-branded primary produce. This demand would certainly underpin confidence in the establishment of another aquatic-based production plant on this site again.
“With paua locally retailing for $95 a kilogramme, the delicacy is one of the most high value proteins produced in New Zealand – even before you look at its worth on the international market.”
New Zealand currently has approximately 13 commercially-licensed paua farms – the largest of which operates in Bream Bay, Northland, and is on track to become the first 100 tonne production facility in the country.
“Paua farming is still one of the smallest aquaculture sectors in New Zealand, but enormous opportunity remains for new areas of development and growth in hatchery, processing, marketing and service sectors. The product could be to aquaculture what kiwifruit was to horticulture in the 1970s,” Mr MacDonald said.
The Awatoto site contains seven residential properties – generating a holding income of $81,640 per annum from six of the homes. Mr Moffitt said one of the residential dwellings was currently vacant had had previously returned an annual rental of $7800.
“The dwellings are of a relatively basic nature, and while their vistas overlooking the ocean are rather spectacular, the structure of the premises themselves is decidedly average. While the residences could deliver a holding income until resource consent is acquired for alternative land use, they could be easily removed to make way for an industrial building,” Mr Moffitt said.
He added that while there was no current consent for water extraction from the property, there was an artesian well on the property with a 7.3-centimeter diameter deep water bore sunk to a depth of 45 metres.
Mr MacDonald said the site could also accommodate the construction of a substantial agricultural coolstore and packhouse facility.
“The location’s immediate proximity to State Highway Two would allow for easy access from across the bay’s production hinterland to a centralised collection point from where produce could either be trucked directly down to Port Napier just 10 kilometres away. As a virtual brownfield site, this would be a cost-effective development option,” he said.