Northland lodge set to profit from tourism surge

4:36 PM Wednesday December 10, 2014 Colin Taylor

Aerial view of Wai Hou Oma Lodge at 357 Kai Iwi Lakes Rd on SH 12 near Dargaville.

Wai Hou Oma Lodge, located about 25 minutes' north of Dargaville and the only four star Qualmark rated lodge on Northland’s west coast, has been placed on the market for sale ahead of an anticipated sizeable growth in tourist numbers visiting the region.

The boutique luxury accommodation provider at 357 Kai Iwi Lakes Rd on State Highway 12 comprises four stand-alone units and an additional studio room attached to the owner/operator’s residence.

Jude O’Connor of Bayleys Dargaville who is marketing Wai Hou Oma Lodge for sale via expressions of interest, says the lodge is strategically located as one of only two commercial accommodation providers on the coastal stretch between Dargaville and the Hokianga Harbour.

The lodge, established 10 years ago and expanded in 2009, sits on 2.7 hectares of land immediately adjacent to the scenic attraction of the Kai Iwi Lakes.

“Three of the individual guest suites overlook a private lake and the suites are configured to sleep between two and six guests,” O’Connor says.

“The business has turned over $120,000 in its best performing year with rack rates ranging from $170 to $340 for two people, depending on room configurations and seasonality.”

Wai Hou Oma lodge had a 41.3 per cent occupancy rate in the 2012/2013 financial year - selling out 724 room nights, she says.

Guest amenities at the lodge include a helicopter landing pad in the middle of the lake, 13-seat conference room, gymnasium, spa complex overlooking the lake, and an eight-seat movie theatre. All units have full kitchens with ovens, microwave, fridge and dishwasher, as well as outdoor barbecue areas.
O’Connor says the dual scenic attractions of the coastal freshwater Kai Iwi Lakes and the Waipoua Forest with its famous
Tane Mahuta kauri are within the stretch of highway where the lodge is situated. The lesser-known Trounson Kauri Park is also within a short driving distance of the venue.

O’Connor says the lodge has recently begun marketing its potential as a boutique venue catering for weddings of between 10 to 25 people in the bridal party, with guests booking all accommodation for three nights and it has already catered for four weddings.

“The sale of Wai Hou Oma Lodge follows the re-elected National Government’s commitment to a range of regional tourism growth initiatives for Northland’s economy,” she says.  

The initiatives have been spearheaded by the commencement of construction of the Puhoi to Wellsford Rd of National Significance in 2016/17, and the continued advancement of plans for the creation New Zealand's most northern national park in the Waipoua Forest in conjunction with supporting wider initiatives to boost Northland’s tourism industry.

O’Connor says Wai Hou Oma Lodge is perfectly positioned to benefit from these initiatives and, in particular, from the looming Waipoua Forest national park conversion just 30 minutes’ drive away, while the Puhoi express route would enable Aucklanders to reach mid and Far North regions considerably quicker – consequently making weekend breaks more attractive.

“Business forecasts from the lodge have calculated that the Government’s two new tourism initiatives, combined, will add between seven and 11 per cent to reservation numbers within two years,” she says.

True Commercial - Wai Hou Oma Lodge, 357 Kai Iwi Lakes Rd, Dargaville RD - bedroom.jpg

A bedroom at Wai Hou Oma Lodge. 

“Lodge owners Ruby and Noel Martin have been quite methodical in the development of Wai Hou Oma, building additional rooms as the business grew. However, a change in personal circumstances means they now need to relocate, and as a result they have reluctantly placed the land, buildings and business up for sale.

“Any new owner could also look at purchasing the venue through a partnership structure and converting it to private use as a holiday home.”

O’Connor says latest figures from the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand show that almost one in 10 jobs (10.6 per cent) held by Far North residents are in the tourism sector.

“The association’s August industry review spotlights that $587 million a year is spent by international and domestic visitors in Northland – equating to 11.5 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product. Northland’s gross domestic product output growth from tourism is now identical to the national figure, after falling behind over the 2008-2010 period.”

She quotes Tourism Industry Association chief executive Chris Roberts saying that the figures highlight that “tourism is a significant and valuable part of the region’s economy and there is plenty of potential to grow tourism even more”.

O’Connor says Wai Hou Oma’s owners have been highly pro-active in supporting localised tourism ventures on Northland’s west coast – promoting venues such as the nearby Maunganui Bluff overlooking the Tasman, and sporting and leisure related activities on the adjacent Kai Iwi Lakes.