New Zealand's first floating home community is being proposed for the Coromandel but plans for a Gulf Harbour project promoted three years ago are yet to become a reality.

Kerry Martin of Waterside Sustainable Developments of Selwyn St in Onehunga said the business is planning the country's first floating community at Whitianga Waterways where 12 residences would be priced from $1.6 million and could have up to six bedrooms each.

A larger concept plan from the business, showing floating homes but not proposed for the Coromandel.
A larger concept plan from the business, showing floating homes but not proposed for the Coromandel.

"I think we have found an ideal partner to deliver the first floating homes community in New Zealand. It will be part of a new marine district at the Whitianga Waterways. This unique location will allow each house to have its own 18m berth, offering the opportunity to step from your house right onto your boat," Martin told the Herald.

Images showed one- and two-level homes with wide areas of glass and decks, sunken pools, boats moored alongside the flat-roof residences placed alongside a boardwalk.



But Michael Webb-Speight says no work has yet begun on the Gulf Harbour floating homes which he announced three years ago.

"We're still battling to get building consent. We got resource consent. It very much remains our intention to do this. We're trying to comply with the Building Act as it pertains to a residential dwelling. It's really hard and very, very complicated," he said of getting approval for his project, The Boat Sheds.

Those were planned for Fairway Bay in the Whangaparaoa area and the business is still asking for expressions of interest.

The Boat Shed project, planned for three years at Gulf Harbour but not built.
The Boat Shed project, planned for three years at Gulf Harbour but not built.

"I'm optimistic I can see something in three to six months. But we've been buried in paper and we've been through mediation process with MBIE," Webb-Speight said, referring to taking matters to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

When the Herald published his plans for the Gulf Harbour floating home estate, he said interest was high and he received calls from overseas.

But at the time, the then-deputy mayor of Auckland Council Penny Hulse expressed reservations: "The idea of floating houses could have a negative impact on our coastal areas and will have to be carefully considered," she said.

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Mark McGuinness, managing director of Willis Bond which is developing luxury Wynyard Quarter apartments, said at the time that the late Sir Ian Athfield had suggested "branches" of floating houses off Wellington's former Overseas Passenger Terminal - now the Clyde Quay Wharf where Willis Bond developed 76 apartments in a $170 million project. But that idea was rejected.

"In practice, it would not work because there were shipping and navigation issues," McGuinness said in 2015.

Martin said his Whitianga Waterways concept was planned for canal areas not yet built.

"The new canal has not yet been cut," he said of the area where the floating homes would go, offering a hot tub, jet ski ramp or "miniature lawn with your favourite tree."

His business is "looking for interested individuals who can envision themselves living in such a floating home in Whitianga, with all the natural wonders of Coromandel at their doorstep.

"The interested individuals will have the opportunity to actively work with the development team and as such can tailor the project to their needs," Martin said.

Sustainable Waterside Developments said concrete floating structures were used en masse during the invasion of Normandy in World War Two, built in England and shipped to France.