Exciting times ahead for Hampton Downs

6:44 PM Friday October 13, 2017 Paul Charman

An aerial view of the Hampton Downs racing and tourism complex 45 minutes south of Auckland Airport. Photo / Supplied

Speed is synonymous with Hampton Downs but since Tony Quinn and his team moved in more than a year ago, the pace of development seems to have gathered a whole new momentum.

Apart from the $30 million investment it took to deliver the motorsport park and events centre, its status as one of the best motorsport facility in the southern hemisphere is on the ascendancy, says Hampton Downs commercial manager Mike Marsden.

“And there is now an opportunity to establish a tourism business at the new concept mall — soon to open at the venue,” he adds.

For anyone who came in late, the racing and tourism complex — 45 minutes south of Auckland International Airport — has gained traction with car manufacturers and corporates who have embraced the modern facilities and the added tarmac. “And latest developments have Hampton Downs poised to become a hot destination for tourists and Kiwis alike,” says Marsden.

A 68-room four-star hotel is at the final stages of planning, with a projected opening date in 2019.

A new cafe, with a unique roasting and coffee drinking experience, will open late this year. Over 100,000 tourists annually are expected to stop in at the new iSite to plan their travels while a top of the range racing simulator promises to give people a unique insight into what it’s like to sit behind a racing car and drive some of the best tracks from around the world.

Other planned facilities for stage one of Destination Hampton Downs include free motorhome parking for self-contained motorhomes, an electric car charging facility and a driver training course for tourists. “And let’s not forget the now famous Hampton Downs Go-Karts, the on-track U-Drive experiences and Hot Lap offerings.”

Marsden says Hampton Downs’ location, halfway between Auckland and Hamilton, leaves it ideally positioned on the doorstep of over half of New Zealand’s population. Business people are seeing the opportunity and those that have already committed will be a catalyst for more, he adds.

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Cars racing at Hampton Downs in the NZ Motor Cup - Picture / Bruce Jenkins. Photo / Supplied

“It really is the perfect location for industrial and tourism business operators,” says Marsden. “The Toyota Racing team is our new anchor tenant and we are about to be home to a new iSite, so we are truly in rapid growth mode.

“We’re in the perfect location to take advantage of both domestic and international tourism growth. We’re just off the Waikato Expressway and just 45 minutes from Auckland International Airport. Branding and signage opportunities here are second to none and tenants enjoy unparalleled exposure, with about 60,000 cars passing each day.

“We’ll be offering free overnight parking for motorhomes and that will be a huge drawcard for travellers who get off international flights and hire campervans in Auckland. They can stop off here before exploring the rest of the country, while those returning from holidays will have a place to park up before heading to the airport the next day.

“Tourists usually try to get out of the city as soon as possible. We offer the perfect spot to recover from their jet lag. They can talk to the experts at iSite and plan their New Zealand travel itinerary in greater detail.”

Marsden alludes to plans to launch a driver training programme for tourists, which will be a joint venture with its sister track Highlands, located in Cromwell, just 45 minutes from Queenstown airport.

“We already do a lot of driver training so it is a natural step for both businesses and an initiative we hope will help save lives on New Zealand roads.

“Let’s not forget Hampton Downs promotes five major motorsport events annually, attracting 1000s of people to the circuit. The summer event season kicks off with the track’s marquee event, the Laser Plumbing and Electrical Hampton Downs 500 over the weekend of October 28-29.”

He says the Ferrari 458 Challenge, is now confirmed in New Zealand for the first time. From mid-April the venue will host a grid of 32 Ferrari 458s, competing over four days.

“Thanks to its design values, the quality of the venue, its activities and proximity to this country’s largest population centres we lead the way in representing New Zealand’s motor racing community. Now we are about to welcome thousands more international tourists,” says Marsden.