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Meaty property opportunity on offer as former abattoir operations plant is placed up for sale

The land and buildings previously operated as a major regional abattoir by one of New Zealand’s biggest meat processing firms have been placed on the market for sale.

The property at 360 Ngati Maru Highway in Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula was formerly operated by long-standing New Zealand giant meat processing business Wilson Hellaby, which also runs plants in Auckland and the Waikato.

Wilson Hellaby began its butchery operations in New Zealand in 1873, and has been operating the Ngati Maru Highway site as an abattoir since the 1960s – processing beef, lamb and pork as required during peak capacity seasons.

The site’s extensive vehicle loading and unloading concreted yard, covered stock handling pens, killing chain, refrigeration and chiller units, and staff amenities were principally used as a back-up butchery facility to provide additional capacity for Wilson Hellaby’s Auckland and Hamilton meat killing and processing plants.

Constantly maintained to a ‘turn key’ state ready to be commissioned at short notice, the Ngati Maru Highway plant was mothballed just a few months ago when Wilson Hellaby moved to a new business model.

Now the freehold 1.64 hectares of freehold land and 3,520 square metres of various buildings at 360 Ngati Maru Highway are being jointly marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Hamilton and Bayleys Whitianga, with tenders closing on December 3.

Bayleys Waikato salesperson Josh Smith said the Wilson Hellaby land and plant was one of the ingest industrial real estate assets in and around Thames to have been brought to the market in recent years.

“The site and its infrastructure offer a myriad of opportunities to a wide range of buyers,” Smith said.

He said that while the killing chain plant within the buildings was included on the chattels list for sale, and had only been decommissioned from full working status a few months ago, the premises was not being offered as a functioning meat works operation. The property is zoned Industrial 7B under the Thames Coromandel District Council plan.

“Saying that, the property is being sold with current Thames District Council consents and Ministry for Primary Industries animal and food processing certification still in place,” Smith said.

“A large portion of the freezing works space is segregated into multiple chillers – each with their own vehicular loading bay access. While a clause within the sale agreement excludes future use of the property as a butchery for the production of meat for human consumption, it could however be converted into a food processing operation - suited to supporting both the horticulture and aquaculture sectors.

“With new kiwifruit and avocado orchards increasingly spreading west along the Bay of Plenty coastline, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Ngati Maru Highway plant could be refurbished into a packhouse and storage facility for those crops.

“Quite clearly, the abundance of truck yards space and refrigerated chiller rooms would be the cornerstone of any new packhouse complex, while Thames is on the direct route into Auckland - where crops can be shipped out to international markets.

“Alternatively, the growing number and size of aqualculture mussel and oyster farming ventures along the Coromandel coastline indicate the former Wilson Hellaby plant could be converted to supporting a centralised processing, packaging and storage facility for shellfish producers – either individually, or as a co-operative.”

Supporting Smith’s suggestion, such is the scale of the mussel and oyster farming sector along the Firth of Thames that it has its own representative body – the Coromandel Marine Farmers’ Association.

Data from Thames Coromandel District Council’s economic unit states that the area’s aquaculture industry produces 30 percent of New Zealand’s greenshell mussel tonnage, and 24 percent of this this country’s Pacific oyster haul by weight. Together these two species bring in more than $5million of revenue to the Coromandel - supporting some 400 jobs in the sector.

“Alternatively, subject to council consent approval – and factoring in the size of the landholding and the property’s easy access to Thames’ main population area – the existing abattoir buildings could be demolished, and the location reconfigured into the likes of a supermarket, large warehousing amenity or industrial precinct,” Smith said.

“The existing processing plant equipment and infrastructure at 360 Ngati Maru Highway is of significant book value and would deliver a new owner a cash return upon possession when broken down and on-sold. The vendor is willing to pass on the contact details of a specialist asset disposal consultant who could assist with this process – with potential plant buyers in New Zealand and abroad.

“Thames’ current urban boundary is just a few hundred metres away from this location - running between the town and the Kopu roundabout – so an obvious option is to develop new premises in the middle of this ‘belt’.”

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