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Classic lakefront Taupō fishing lodge lures buyers

The freehold land and buildings associated with a modest and enduringly popular trout fishing lodge on the eastern shore of Lake Taupō, where two of its five standalone accommodation units are just metres away from the lake’s edge, is for sale for the first time in 18 years.

Situated between State Highway 1 and the shore of Lake Taupō around 12km from the town centre, Waitahanui Lodge has operated from the site since 1932 when a rather primitive facility with no electricity or running water quickly garnered an avid following among trout fishers nationally and globally.

There are stories of dignitaries and royalty staying at the lodge, attracted to the fly-fishing opportunities on the lake, nearby Waitahanui River and stream, and other local waterways.

Many international fishers are purported to have been drawn to Taupō after legendary American author Zane Grey publicised the area as a trout fisherman’s paradise in his 1920s book, An Angler’s El Dorado.

Later sold and rebuilt in 1955 to provide five cabins and a shop, Waitahanui Lodge has had several changes of hands in subsequent years. Now the family of Dot Townshend, who purchased the property on a whim in 2005 – determined to preserve the traditional Kiwi bach-style property – are relinquishing the asset.

Leased to operators Anthony and Bronwyn Bell since 2018, trading as Waitahanui Lodge, the lodge has undergone empathetic refurbishment during their reign to improve the accommodation amenities while retaining its bach-like charm.

The current lease expires on 31st March 2024, with the deed of lease allowing the Bells first right to further lease should the property be purchased as an investment.

The existing deed of lease also allows the landlord the right to make alterations or improvements to the lakefront Unit 4, along with the right to occupy this rent-free on occasion with advance notice of required dates and by agreement with the tenant.

The double section property with two access points from State Highway 1 comprises five standalone comfortable self-contained units with either one or two bedrooms and with two of the units being right on the water’s edge, a boat ramp, barbeque area and a rustic outdoor covered room for communal guest socialising.

To the roadside, the three-bedroom manager’s accommodation adjoins the lodge’s well-known fishing tackle shop which is popular with guests and locals alike.

The buildings have a total 430sqm floor area, the site is 1,608sqm and there is on-site and roadside parking available.

Tenders for 116-118 State Highway 1, Taupō close 12pm, Wednesday 22nd November, unless sold prior, through Lucy Baxter, Bayleys Taupō.

Baxter says the lodge in its existing guise rates very highly on travel and accommodation review sites with guests praising its old-world charm, proximity to fishing spots, opportunities for kayaking and paddle-boarding, outstanding sunsets and the hospitable and hands-on hosts.

“This is Kiwi accommodation and hospitality at its best – relaxed, unpretentious yet really comfortable with modern conveniences and there’s a high level of repeat clientele, with bookings often made years in advance.

“The last sequence of buyers have all been emotional purchasers, keen to preserve a slice of absolute waterfront Lake Taupō history and wishing to see the legacy of humble lakeside visitor accommodation continue.

“A new owner may well share this emotive view and look to negotiate a new lease with the current tenant, or operate it themselves when the existing lease expires.”

Occupancy figures across the Taupō commercial visitor accommodation sector are robust, with the town in the country’s top six destinations by occupancy for September 2023.

Baxter says given the finite supply of lakefront land in Taupō, and the Residential 9A zoning of the property, redevelopment of the site with due process and consent-seeking could be considered.

“A buyer wishing to redevelop the site for commercial or residential purposes at a future date may opt to negotiate an extension to the tenant’s current lease while plans and consents are worked through, to provide some holding income.”

Taupō’s already prominent tourism status is set to get a turbo boost with the announcement of a three-year deal to host a round of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship – knowns as 2024 ITM Taupō SuperSprint – which will debut at Taupō International Motorsport Park next April.

“National and international visitors are expected to flock to the event and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Taupō District Council suggest the event will likely generate up to $10 million for the local economy each time it is held,” says Baxter.

“The wider Taupō business community along with tourism operators I’ve spoken to are really excited by the opportunity to showcase the town to a global audience with Supercars having a fanbase of around eight million globally.

“It adds to Taupō’s burgeoning sporting and cultural events’ calendar which includes Taupō Equifest at the National Equestrian Centre, Taupō Cycle challenge, IRONMAN New Zealand, Great Lake Relay, and Winter Festival.”

The well-located Waitahanui Lodge property is around 15 minutes’ drive from Taupō's CBD, roughly eight minutes from the new Countdown supermarket at the Kokomea Village Centre, and handy to the new entertainment and dining precinct, The Landing.

Turangi is approximately 30 minutes’ drive from the property, National Park just over an hour’s drikve, and the brand new $10 million terminal at Taupō Airport around 5km away welcomed its first passengers earlier this year.

Click here for more information on the listing.

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