Request for Expressions of Interest – Woodhill and Riverhead Forests
Tourism / Hospitality / Accommodation / Businesses
Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara Ngahere Ltd (NMWoKNL) is the commercial entity that manages the forestry and related interests of the Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara hapū (sub-tribal grouping). These are based around the c. 12 500 hectare estate of Woodhill Forest and the c. 500 hectare Ararimu Block of Riverhead Forest.
While the core land-use in both forests is, and for the remainder of this century at least will continue to be, pine timber production, they also support a range of other activities.
Woodhill is a well-known adventure / recreational destination in Auckland, catering (through licensed operators) for mountain biking, high-wire tree climbing / ziplining, off-road motorcycling, four wheel driving, paintball and guided horse-riding. NMWoKNL itself manages the Kake Hōiho horse park. Further information about all of these adventures can be found on this website.
Aside from these adventure / recreational businesses, since purchasing the forest land in 2013 NMWoKNL has licensed a firewood collection enterprise and bee-keeping / honey production. There is licensed grazing in the forest and a black sand extraction operation is under development. A wind mast has been gathering data for a year now to gauge the viability of the wind as an energy resource.
Woodhill is also popular with the film industry and has also been the location for a variety of events, staged by both the hapū and others under permit, including the Oro’17 music festival, orienteering and mountain biking as part of the 2017 World Masters Games, the 2016 Rescue Run challenge, the Woodhill 100 motorsport event, the South Head Multisport Challenge, weddings and even a movie night.
Request for Expressions of Interest
NMWoKNL wishes to build on Woodhill Forest’s position as an adventure / recreational tourism destination. We also want to further explore what other non-tourism businesses could locate there.
The Ararimu Block at present has no co-located ancillary activities in addition to forestry, and NMWoKNL is interested in the possibility of introducing these – as at Woodhill.
It is intended that through this request for expressions of interest, we can identify and then work with potential partners to examine the viability of new offerings / businesses in the forests.
NMWoKNL will look at any genuine expressions of interest put forward and is excited at the prospect that there may be some that we have not ourselves yet considered. There are however several opportunities that we are definitely seeking partners for:
Woodhill Forest entrance hospitality / accommodation / visitor centre
A very large former workshop hangar at the main Restall Rd entrance to the southern half of Woodhill Forest is currently dis-used, but could be a real ‘activator’ in creating a focal hub for the forest and as a portal to the adventure / recreational activities within.
NMWoKNL envisages this building being converted into a visitor centre and ‘back-packer’ style accommodation, with a bespoke food and beverage offering (and possibly other retail) targeting both forest users (c. 150 000 per annum) and the surrounding growth communities of Helensville, Waimauku and Huapai / Kumeū.
We anticipate running the visitor centre and accommodation but wish to work with a partner with experience in the hospitality sector to further test the viability of developing a food and beverage offering as part of the refurbishment and re-presentation of this building – and what the relative contributions of the parties to this could be. We envisage the look and feel of this will embrace the cultural heritage of Woodhill and especially its function as an operating forest.
Complementary adventure / recreational activities in Woodhill Forest / Ararimu Block
NMWoKNL would like to hear from potential partners / licensees with ideas and expertise for new offerings that could complement the existing adventure / recreational activities in Woodhill (currently clustered in the southern end) and grow the destination as a whole – or which could represent a first permanent offering at Ararimu as an addition to forestry.
Current operators in Woodhill have licences (or renewal options) of varying terms, the longest of which extend out to 2024 … but with the possibility of non-competitive enterprises co-locating.
Riverhead Forest has over time been the venue for activities and events that include off-road motorcycling and four wheel driving, horse-riding, paintball and mountain biking – although none of these are presently permanently based in the hapū-owned Ararimu Block.
We are willing to look at licence arrangements but are especially interested in opportunities to invest / partner in new businesses in order to ‘move up the value chain’ in our forests, grow our knowledge of the adventure / recreational tourism sectors and train / employ our people.
Bespoke higher end accommodation at Muriwai
At its very southern end Woodhill Forest overlooks the regional park, golf course and beach-side settlement of Muriwai with its popular gannet colony and café. Muriwai has 1.4 million visitors per annum.
NMWoKNL would like to work with an experienced accommodation operator to explore in detail the opportunity at the Muriwai end of the Forest to develop a higher end offering that acknowledges the area’s environmental attractions. We envisage a focus on sustainable design and function, infused with a strong Ngāti Whātua identity and presence.
For the past three years NMWoKNL has licensed a bee-keeping / honey company to place hives in the southern half of Woodhill. The honey produced has to date been a mixed flora but there are extensive stands of native vegetation in both Woodhill and the Ararimu Block, including mānuka, that have the potential to make more targeted honey types.
We would like to hear from bee-keepers / honey producers who are interested in making use of the northern part of Woodhill or the Ararimu Block.
NMWoKNL is open to the location of other enterprises in our forests. As the existing tourism and other businesses show, there are many activities that can co-locate. NMWoKNL does however have further scope to keep up to twenty percent of the productive land from re-planting once harvested – which could support larger scale alternatives to forestry should they prove to be a ‘higher and better use’. Harvesting is an ongoing process across our forestry estates, constantly opening up previously forested areas.
There are also a number of buildings in various locations in Woodhill Forest that could support the operation of new businesses.
If you have an idea for an enterprise you could see operating successfully in Woodhill or the Ararimu Block we would be interested in hearing from you. We are especially interested in opportunities to invest / partner in new businesses in order to ‘move up the value chain’ in our forests, grow our knowledge of different sectors and train / employ our people.
Currently adventure and recreation tourism activities are located in the southern half of Woodhill, with no permanent non-forestry operations in the northern half.
How to register your expression of interest
In order to allow some direct comparison between expressions of interest, we have created a registration form that asks a number of specific questions.
Please complete this form and submit it by the 30th of June, 2018. Its receipt will be acknowledged.
If you need further information, please contact us at:
[email protected] / 0212533930
Following the 30 June, 2018 close of the expression of interest period, NMWoKNL will consider all correspondence received.
We will not have the capability nor desire to pursue all opportunities presented, certainly not immediately, and so will select just a few of the most compelling to explore further with the applicant. By the end of July 2018 unsuccessful applicants will receive an indication of whether their proposal is of no interest or of interest, but to be pursued in the future if and when resources and circumstances align.
Read more about business opportunities in Woodhill Forest in this article:
Check out the write up on Woodhill Forest in the May 2018 issue of Kia Ora Magazine: