Taranaki campground has views and development potential

4:59 AM Wednesday May 4, 2016 Paul Charman

The Seaview Motor Camp at Awakino is a popular beach front holiday park.

A popular seafront holiday park, located where many a south-bound Aucklander pauses for an early glimpse of Mt Taranaki, is on the market for sale.

Seaview Motor Camp draws positive comments online, uploaded by many extolling friendly service and wild west coast scenery.

Yet caravan-users, motorhome enthusiasts, tenters and cabin stayers are outnumbered by those who merely pause a long drive south at the rest area adjoining the holiday park.

This group may order a coffee, use rest rooms or stroll along the iron-sand surf beach, as they gaze toward distant Mt Taranaki.

Whatever the motive for stopping, the experience of folk visiting this SH3 locality — between Awakino and Mokau — could soon be enhanced.

Alan Johnston and Iain Taylor, of Bayleys Taranaki — who are selling the freehold property through a tender process closing on May 12 — point to moves now under way to better utilise its 4.39ha land area.

Waitomo District Council has signed off plans for the creation at the site of up to 24 permanent freehold dwellings and a 50-seater cafe available for public use.

“As well as this, the potential to enhance camping facilities — comprising 64 powered caravan sites, 30 tent sites, six cabins, and two bigger-sized flats — seems to be huge,” says Johnston.

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An aerial view of Seaview Motor Camp on State Highway 3 an hour from New Plymouth.

During peak summer season over Christmas and New Year, the campground accommodates up to 540 guests a night – with more than a dozen caravans left in permanent residency by mostly Waikato or Taranaki-based owners, he says.

“Guest numbers also swell over the whitebait season throughout October, when hardcore whitebaiters take up their favourite spots on the nearby Awakino River, one of the richest sources of whitebait in the North Island.”

The campground comes complete with permanent structures including a three-bedroom owner/manager’s house, a camp management office, a laundry block with coin-operated washers and dryers, a separate toilet and shower block, and six basic cabins. It is staffed by two people year-round.

“There is the obvious potential for a new owner to develop a ‘glamping’ side to the business — as this niche sector of the tourism sector is virtually untapped in Taranaki,” Johnston says.

“Unpowered camping sites now rent for $16 per-person per-night night, while powered sites are charged at $18 per-person per-night. The future is about developing the number of night stays during the summer shoulder periods,” he says.

“The location attracts clientele from Taranaki, the lower reaches of the Waikato and the King Country. Several weddings and large family functions have been held under large marquees over the years. Also, the six current fixed cabins could be modernised or upgraded to increase their yields and offer a higher standard of accommodation.”

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The motor camp has cabins and permanent caravan sites.

Johnston sees opportunity to consolidate the camping facilities into a more compressed area, allowing for the creation of residential homes on the site.

Under the newly issued consent, the 24 new lots will range in size from 193-324sq m, broken down into five precincts, leaving the potential to develop some or all of the neighbourhoods, either in one go, or over a staged process.

“The building consent allows for the construction of dwellings up to nine metres above ground level, meaning they could feature elevated ground floors, and have potential for roof decks.

“Under the right ownership model — already operating in some of Auckland and Queenstown’s premium hotels and at timeshare blocks elsewhere – dwellings could be placed into a management pool administered by a new owner, with profits returned to the unit owners.”

The Waitomo District Council consent approves construction of a cafe at the southern tip of the current camp site, with unobstructed views of the North Taranaki coastline.

“With the right design, the cafe could double as a function venue, complementing development of improved accommodation options immediately adjacent. In effect, Seaview Motor Camp could become a one-stop hospitality destination,” Johnston says.

“SH3 carries an average of about 2000 vehicles per day. It is the main route linking Waikato and Taranaki.

“The campground is an hour north of New Plymouth, or an hour west of Te Kuiti and the popular Waitomo Caves.”