The first artificial man-made island at Coromandel's $1.5 billion Whitianga Waterways will be opened tonight and most sections on that 11ha $200m island have already been sold.

Leigh Hopper, chief executive of Hopper Developments, said Endeavour Island had 109 residential lots where more than 300 people would live and only about six sections remained for sale.

Fifty of the 109 lots are on the new canal or waterway, he said.

A number of new homes have already been built on the 600sq m to 1000sq m island sections which sold for $400,000 to $1m-plus, Hopper said.


Access to the island is via Endeavour Bridge.

Hopper plans to build his own new home on a 3000sq m island section facing the new canal, with four glamping tents for staff, family and friends.

Endeavour Island is the first of three planned islands in the waterways. It was named after Captain James Cook's British Royal Navy research vessel.

Hopper said the name of the second yet-to-be-created island was a consultation exercise with Ngati Hei and it might be named after that local iwi waka but nothing had been decided.

"Tonight's celebration will mark the completion of a stage in the waterways which delivers the first man-made island residential community in New Zealand. This creates a unique address," Hopper said of Endeavour Island.

Former dairy farms were amalgamated in a joint venture between Hopper Developments and the land owners so the 11ha - originally part of the mainland - then became marooned by 1.5km of new canal to give waterfront views and the ability for many people to moor a vessel outside their home.

Leigh Hopper, opposite Endeavour Island this week. Photo/Doug Sherring
Leigh Hopper, opposite Endeavour Island this week. Photo/Doug Sherring

Last Tuesday, the water was released so that for the first time, boaties could navigate from the Whitianga River Estuary to the Joan Gaskell Dr bridge towards the heart of the waterways.

Hopper said that last decade, about half the community were non-permanent residents who worked elsewhere - often Auckland - but that had changed since about 2008.


"About half our sales had traditionally been to permanent residents however recent changes in demand are seeing 90 per cent of property owners are permanent residents," he said.

Endeavour Island at Whitianga Waterways. Photo/Doug Sherring
Endeavour Island at Whitianga Waterways. Photo/Doug Sherring

Hopper said the waterways had been built to cater for climate change's potential rising sea levels.

"Our experts told us we may or may not get half a metre sea level rise in the next 100 years. We have built 2m above those levels and we have designed our structures to protect the interface between the canals and the properties," he said referring to walls around the canals.

Construction of the waterways started about 17 years ago and would take a further 20 years to complete, he said.

The well-established Whitianga Waterways, developed in the last 17 years. Photo/Doug Sherring
The well-established Whitianga Waterways, developed in the last 17 years. Photo/Doug Sherring

More than 500 sections have already been created across the entire project and when it is finished, it will have about 8km of canals.

Across the canal from the island, Marlin Waters retirement village will be expanded, a new 100-room hotel will be built and a new waterfront retail centre would rise with about 30 properties, he said.

Waterways on the Grand Canal are about 60m wide, while canals around the island are about 50m wide. All the canals are about 2m minimum draft at low tide, he said.

Denis Tegg, a lawyer based in Thames, fears the effects of climate change on Whitianga township and cited the Waikato Regional Council's coastal inundation tool for calculating rising sea levels.

"If you input a 0.8m metre rise which 2008 Ministry for the Environment guidelines require councils to consider, then a large chunk of Whitianga township goes under water. Therefore the question arises as why would you have a subdivision where the town centre is under water?" Tegg asked.

6pm tonight, public event: fireworks, live music, celebrations, Whitinga Waterways.