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Rural Insight: Coastal farming opportunities beckon

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Generational shifts in land ownership and the appeal of a rural coastal lifestyle are contributing to a buoyant coastal farm market across the country.

Bayleys Whakatane rural agent Rhys Mischefski said he is noticing a shift in buyer ages and types as farmers off larger inland properties seek out land owning opportunities on smaller farms near the coast.

“It may be that their children have left home, or are now running the farm at home, and the parents are still young and fit enough to be wanting to be on the land, but perhaps in a warmer location, closer to amenities and on a smaller area that they can run as a grazing or drystock block.”

He said supply of such properties was simply not able to meet the demand. He pointed to a 94ha Matata property he was marketing to tender that had drawn interest from far and wide.

“I have had 28 enquiries and 16 inspections on the property. The Eastern Bay of Plenty is a relatively small area, only 33,000 people live there and I would normally have expected five to six enquiries, and perhaps two or three inspections.”

Interest was coming from traditional strong drystock regions like Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, with a number of buyers in their early 50s keen to keep farming on a smaller scale.

“There has also been interest from people who may have had a farming background, or were bought up on a farm and have the means to own one later in life.”

Properties along the coastal belt continued to command a healthy premium, given many eastern farms were not only on strong soils, but also offered attractive views to the north and east.

“Properties along the coast continue to command a healthy premium.”

“We are seeing values of around $25,000 a hectare for drystock blocks which appears to be a premium over other areas.”

Northland farm values have also proven to remain strong for coastal properties, with purchasers’ intentions for properties shifting in recent years.

Bayleys Whangarei general manager Tony Grindle said buyers were tending to want to leave their purchases as operational farms, with greater focus on preserving areas of bush and conservation value within the boundaries. 

Large set piece purchases and projects like the now iconic Kauri Cliffs retreat at Matauri Bay or the Peppers Carrington Resort on the Karikari Peninsula were early examples of shifts in land use after farms were sold.

“But most coastal farms are still economic units in their own right, even within the centre of the Bay of Islands, and right along pretty much the entire west coast with units from 300ha to 1000ha. Today if prospective owners are not farming themselves, the purchasers are seeking scale, nature and privacy with their working farm.”

Recent sales in the region have been for beef properties, with a 400ha coastal property near Aranga on the west coast attracting $11,000 a hectare.

 “The interest we get in coastal properties is always wider than farming circles, often from people you would not expect. That includes investors who will buy farms, run them and land bank them for future development – the properties continue to be quite capable of earning them a reasonable return until such time as they decide to develop.”

Nor has a cooler southern climate put buyers off being interested in coastal properties there. 

Evan Marshall, Bayleys rural specialist in Christchurch said Banks Peninsula is a coastal district holding growing appeal, despite its relatively small number of commercial farms available.

“Banks Peninsula meets all requirements in land and water strategies for Canterbury which means the peninsula offers a low cost alternative option for farming in the region.”

“We are noticing greater interest from further afield in Peninsula farms. It is a low cost farming district, close to Christchurch with good access and roading.” 

He said land prices on Banks Peninsula farms had typically risen from about $6000/ha two years ago to nearer $11,000/ha today.

As in the North Island interest is strong from farmers wanting to step back from larger scale properties in the Plains region, and onto a smaller farm that also brings an enjoyable lifestyle with the district’s many recreational options.

“Interest is strong from farmers wanting to step back from larger scale properties and onto smaller farms that also bring an enjoyable lifestyle.”

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