Significant economic development focused on aquaculture in Opotiki is helping initiate a surge in activity in the Eastern Bay of Plenty's lifestyle property market.
Benefiting from the government's Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which awarded $117.37 million to projects in the district, investment in an offshore mussel farm and the town's harbour, including a private marina development, are set to drive growth in the area.
lwi owned Te Whakatohea Mussel Farm sits 8.5 kilometres off the Opotiki coast, encompassing over 3800 hectares of open ocean. Mussels harvested daily from the farm are processed in Opotiki at a plant built with the assistance of $24.85 million from the PGF. Meanwhile with $76.4 million allocated from the PGF the Opotiki Harbour Development Project is under way recently opening of a new groyne to create an entrance navigable in all but the worst conditions to provide access for larger boats. Also assisting is the University of Waikato, which opened the Raukokore Marine Research Centre in September 2023, the university's base for ongoing research in the East Coast Moana a Toi and the Tairawhiti region.
All the fundamentals are in place for the growth of large scale aquaculture in the offshore waters of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, enabling Opotiki to become a service and processing base for that and other marine related activities.
Waiotahi locals Phil and Eileen Goldsmith of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Whakatane, say Opotiki offers a strong community, affordable housing, and many ways to enjoy the outdoors.
"With its temperate climate, Opotiki gardens thrive, while the small town lifestyle, and great beaches for swimming, diving and fishing make it the perfect place to live or holiday in. With plenty of open sea, 160 kilometres of coastline, 13 clean, fast flowing rivers and 11,200 hectares of native bush and scrubland, the Opotiki District is the perfect home for a community that appreciates and enjoys outdoor activities and the natural environment. The district comprises 25 per cent of the Bay of Plenty region and contains 50 per cent of the Bay of Plenty coastline.
"Recreational ocean fishing here is exceptional, attracting plenty of people to retire to Opotiki, or look out for holiday accommodation here, usually coming from Rotorua, Taupo, and south of the central North Island. Service people such as builders and electricians are also moving into the area, adding to the community growth.
"Now the mussels are set to be a big focus, igniting sustainable economic prosperity in the region, taking growth to the next level and creating hundreds of new jobs. All those positive factors add up. It's definitely an up and coming marketplace for lifestyle property, and one to watch;' he says.
Phil and wife Eileen, whose family has farmed in the district for four generations, work together in the lifestyle and rural property sectors.
Just under 9300 people live in Opotiki District, while each year more than 30,000 visitors spend time in the area. Some 20 marae are a focal point for local communities, along with a number of strong farming, lifestyle and coastal settlements.
Historically primarily an economy driven by agriculture, over 400 farms, amounting to 75,660 hectares comprise much of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, consisting of 38 per cent in beef and dairy farms, 29 per cent in planted forests, and one per cent in horticulture, of which the majority is land planted in kiwifruit, with three main packhouses and plans for ongoing further development within this industry.
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