Weekend Herald

Leap on to a golden op­por­tu­nity in na­ture- tourism

- Recreation · Travel · South Island · New Zealand · Otago Region · Queenstown · Queenstown · Dunedin · Australia · Lonely Planet Travel Guides · Invercargill · Bill Bailey · Bret McKenzie · Flight of the Conchords · Frankton

A South Is­land re­sort on a worl­drenowned scenic high­way, whose guests in­clude TV stars and in­ter­na­tional film crews is for sale.

The Whistling Frog restau­rant and ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex lies in the heart of one of New Zealand’s top na­ture- tourism des­ti­na­tions, the 56,000ha Catlins Con­ser­va­tion Park.

Fa­mous guests have in­cluded Bri­tish co­me­dian Bill Bai­ley, Neil Oliver from the BBC’s Coast series and Os­car- win­ner Bret McKen­zie of Flight of the Con­chords.

The re­sort has hosted se­cret film­ing for big- bud­get in­ter­na­tional car ad­verts and a Ja­panese milk com­mer­cial backed by spec­tac­u­lar coastal scenery. The area’s at­trac­tions also starred when the Whistling Frog was the base for film­ing the 2012 hit Kiwi com­edy Two Lit­tle Boys.

The prof­itable re­sort is lo­cated at 9 Rew­cas­tle Rd in South Otago, at the in­ter­sec­tion with the South­ern Scenic Route link­ing Queen­stown, Fiord­land, the Catlins and Dunedin — named by Aus­tralia’s Trav­eller magazine as one of the 10 most scenic drives in the world.

Named af­ter a frog species found lo­cally, The Whistling Frog is set amid lush coastal na­tive for­est and farm­land. It was devel­oped over more than 15 years by its cur­rent own­ers, who are now sell­ing and re­tir­ing. The own­ers have es­tab­lished di­verse in­come streams from mul­ti­ple din­ing, camp­ing and lodg­ing op­tions within easy reach of the Catlins’ top at­trac­tions.

The sale comes as Ki­wis’ grow­ing fo­cus on do­mes­tic travel is boost­ing de­mand for hol­i­day parks. Data from Hol­i­day Parks New Zealand ( HAPNZ) re­vealed an 11 per cent leap in guest nights in Au­gust, to nearly 360,000, com­pared with Au­gust last year. Ad­vance book­ings point to heavy de­mand over the peak sum­mer pe­riod.

The land, build­ings and busi­ness sus­tain­ing the Whistling Frog are be­ing mar­keted for sale as a go­ing concern with an in­dica­tive fixed price of $ 5,750,000 plus GST ( if any) through Bay­leys Frank­ton.

Sales­per­son War­wick Kerr said the sale in­cluded all in­fras­truc­ture, plant, build­ings, chat­tels and no good­will payable. The prop­erty con­sisted of mul­ti­ple ac­com­mo­da­tion and sup­port build­ings with a to­tal floor area of some 1643sq m on ap­prox­i­mately 6.9ha of free­hold land, al­low­ing for fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

“The purpose- built, li­censed cafe/ bar build­ing gen­er­ates all- day in­come from park guests and pass­ing trade. It has in­door and out­door seat­ing for up to 140, ser­viced with a mod­ern com­mer­cial kitchen. The menu is a blend of seafood, lamb, beef, lo­cal dishes, bar­be­cue smoked ribs and wood- fired piz­zas, com­ple­mented with guest beers and in- house mi­cro- brews. Guest re­cep­tion and an ex­cur­sions book­ing desk share this build­ing,” said Kerr.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex can sleep about 90 guests in beds, in many con­fig­u­ra­tions for dif­fer­ent bud­gets.

“The de­vel­op­ment of a com­plex of this size and diver­sity in such a strate­gic po­si­tion in the heart of the con­ser­va­tion park could prob­a­bly never be re­peated,” Kerr said.

“There is no com­pa­ra­ble com­pe­ti­tion in the area. As such, it presents a unique op­por­tu­nity for a life­style busi­ness in­vestor to cap­i­talise on years of de­vel­op­ment and — if they wish — fur­ther ex­pand the op­er­a­tion over time.

“Thanks to the own­ers’ heavy in­vest­ment in con­struc­tion and in­fras­truc­ture, in­come is grow­ing.”

He said gross in­come from all oper­a­tions was con­sis­tently in the seven fig­ures, with strong for­ward book­ings and cafe rev­enue.

“The busi­ness re­cov­ered af­ter the Covid- 19 lock­down with bet­ter- thanusual rev­enue from win­ter ac­com­mo­da­tion and camp­ing, and busy for­ward book­ings for sum­mer hol­i­day and cor­po­rate ac­tiv­ity. With in­ter­na­tional travel re­stricted, there i s un­prece­dented do­mes­tic de­mand as Ki­wis ex­plore their own back­yard.”

De­tailed fi­nan­cial and oc­cu­pancy fig­ures are avail­able to po­ten­tial in­vestors upon sign­ing a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment.

Kerr said the re­sort ben­e­fited from a strate­gic lo­ca­tion near the Catlins’ big­gest at­trac­tions. “Bounded by the in­creas­ingly busy South­ern Scenic Route and Rew­cas­tle Rd lead­ing to McLean Falls, this site en­joys con­stant through- traf­fic.

“It’s three kilo­me­tres from the 55m McLean Falls, which in 2018 graced the cover of Lonely Planet’s South Is­land guide book. It also lies just 600m from the ac­cess to Cathe­dral Caves, one of the world’s largest sea cave com­plexes.

“The Catlins’ rugged coast­line, forests and wildlife such as rare Hec­tor’s dol­phins and yel­low- eyed pen­guins are at­tract­ing grow­ing at­ten­tion — which prom­ises to grow fur­ther with the area mooted as a new na­tional park,” Kerr said.

“The Whistling Frog is a lit­tle over three hours from Queen­stown, two hours from Dunedin and just over an hour from In­ver­cargill — with prox­im­ity to in­ter­na­tional air­ports at Dunedin and Queen­stown an ad­van­tage once in­ter­na­tional vis­its re­sume.

“This fa­cil­ity has been devel­oped for the long haul. It can be run with a man­age­ment team or by the new own­ers, with knowl­edge­able longterm staff in place. It is scal­able to what­ever level is de­sired,” Kerr said.

For ex­am­ple, au­tumn and win­ter oper­a­tions could be scaled up to meet vis­i­tor de­mand for Aurora Aus­tralis ( South­ern Lights) and black sky stargaz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“This is a rare op­por­tu­nity to se­cure an es­tab­lished, multi- use ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex and li­censed restau­rant in a world- class na­ture tourism des­ti­na­tion. The Whistling Frog has been devel­oped and diver­si­fied to a point where it of­fers ex­cel­lent turnover and the po­ten­tial to fur­ther grow the busi­ness.

“The global pan­demic has shown that be­ing ‘ off the beaten track’ can be a valu­able as­set. The Whistling Frog will ap­peal to in­vestors who seek to com­bine busi­ness with an ad­ven­tur­ous ru­ral life­style. This could in­clude re­turn­ing ex­pats or cor­po­rate in­vestors.”

 ??  ?? Named af­ter a frog species found lo­cally, The Whistling Frog is set amid lush coastal na­tive for­est and farm­land.
Named af­ter a frog species found lo­cally, The Whistling Frog is set amid lush coastal na­tive for­est and farm­land.

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