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Buyers set to show their ‘in-tent’ as classic Kiwi campground is placed on the market for sale

A classic ‘Kiwiana’ campground with its own swimming river and native bush surrounds has been placed on the market for sale.

The 1.17-hectare property on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula houses the Whitianga Campground which has been a destination for campers and holiday-makers since the 1970s.

The campground – a short walk from Whitianga’s famed Buffalo Beach – is reflective of New Zealand’s rustic camping psyche where guests are encouraged to ‘make their own fun’ through everything from outdoor sports activities to sharing a glass of beer or wine with the neighbours at the end of the day.

Camping accommodation options at the Whitianga Campground include:

• 59 powered non-powered tent and motorhome sites available for $17 per night
• Six budget cabins capable of sleeping up to five guests available from $71 per night
• Four self-contained ‘tourist flats’ capable of sleeping up to eight guests each, available from $105 per night.

Meanwhile, the holiday park’s owner/manager’s accommodation consists of a two storey four-bedroom home and a separate two-bedroom cottage.

Communal guest services infrastructure on the property includes a kitchen and adjoining outdoor dining space, separate men’s and women’s shower and toilet blocks, and a sheltered BBQ area. The site consists of two titles.

Now the land, buildings and going concern Whitianga Campground business at 2 and 6 Bongard Road have been placed on the market for sale by tender through Bayleys Whitianga and Bayleys Hamilton, with tenders closing on October 22. Salespeople Josh Smith and Belinda Sammons said that with a considerable amount of underutilised space toward the rear of the site, there were multiple options for any new owner to explore.

“The building infrastructure and set up of Whitianga Campground reflect the very heart of Kiwiana from a bygone era. The cabins and amenities are basic by today’s standards, yet totally comfortable and functional - from a time where families talked around the dinner table lit by Tilley lanterns or played cricket and frisbee on the grass outside, rather than being hunched over their mobile phones and i-pads, or scrambling over the ropes and poles of a supervised adventure theme park,” said Smith.

“That is one of the reasons the business has such a strong number of repeat bookings – with families coming back year after year. There is already a substantial number for forward bookings for sites, starting in the lead up to Christmas this year and running well into the summer of 2021.

“The ‘solid ‘bones’ of Whitianga Campground’s infrastructure could continue to be operated in their current format or could just as easily be modernised and expanded – by refurbishing and upgrading the existing inventory of units to deliver greater degrees of guest comfort which many New Zealand families were now seeking, or by adding new cabin stock to offer new and higher price points.

“For example, the camping accommodation options could be developed to sustain the modern camping phenomenon known as ‘glamping’ which combines traditional nights under canvas with modern amenities such as inner-sprung king-size mattress and bedding, cotton sheets and thick duvets, fully-stocked mini-bar service, and even internet-streamed TV,” he said.

“Glampers travel throughout the year though – even in winter, and more so now with the international travel restrictions in place as a result of Covid-19 as we saw when the country came out of level two lockdown the first time earlier this year.

“Glampers are prepared to pay top dollar for that ‘authentic’ camping experience. In essence, the cosmopolitan camper of today is seeking the comforts of a four-star hotel in an environment replicating a traditional Kiwi camp site such as Whitianga Campground.”

Sammons said that like virtually every New Zealand campground, Whitianga Campground had higher occupancy levels over the peak summer season running from December to February, with operations scaled down on the spring and autumn shoulder seasons, and running on minimal resourcing over winter when maintenance work and landscaping was undertaken.

Sammons said that for an off-site owner-operator looking to take on the business, there was the obvious potential to convert the bigger four-bedroom residential dwelling into the accommodation pool – thereby adding another option for guests with bigger numbers in their party.

“The dwelling could easily be expected to achieve a nightly revenue in the region of $170 - $250 depending on the seasonality,” she said.

“Whitianga Campground has deliberately chosen to operate its plot sites on a low-density model - allowing the caravan, tent and motorhome sites to be spaciously interspersed, many under the shade of large mature native trees running around half the perimeter of the site – rather than being tightly packed side-by-side in large field-like spaces.

“The surrounding thick bush, combined with the positioning of the holiday park campsite in a shallow valley, mean the property and its guests are sheltered from strong winds – a benefit enjoyed by campers.

“The campground is located close enough to Whitianga township that guests can easily drive into town to stock up on daily retail needs yet is far enough away to ensure the amenity delivers a sense of peace and serenity.”

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