- Wharenui for sale at Omarino, Bay of Islands
- Owned by Barry and Emma McCollam
- Waterfront compound sleeps 24
- Three separate family dwellings
- Additional bunkhouse
- Pool nestles between houses
- Private golf course facilities
- International-style tennis court
An exclusive three-home resort-style Bay of Islands property, which cost $26 million to develop, has been on the market for 17 months.
The Government's foreign buyer ban is being cited as one of the reasons buyers have been deterred.
Barry and Emma McCollam's Wharenui on Manawaora Rd is within the gated Omarino beachfront estate near Russell where 19 sites have been created. The land was purchased by Sky TV founder Craig Heatley in 2001.
Barry McCollam said his beachfront compound-like property could accommodate up to 24 people but he and his wife had bought a place in Queensland's Sanctuary Cove to play golf so had decided to sell.
He said Omarino did not allow commercial activities at the homes so it was only used for family purposes.
"We bought the land about 10 years ago; it was a year in the planning, took four years to build and we've been in now four to five years. Things change in one's life. As my wife says, we were either 10 years too early or 10 years too late creating it."
Charlie Brendon-Cook of Luxury Real Estate, advertising it, said the property - designed by architect Simon Carnachan and built by Lindesay Construction - had "cost $26m to create, with land and buildings".
Asked why it was taking so long to sell, the agent cited Overseas Investment Act amendments and said: "How long did it take to sell Te Rere Cove?" referring to the seven years to move a Waiheke Island property.
McCollam said the main reason the property had not sold was obviously price. "Let's face it - at the price level our property is at, it's not your everyday sale. Charlie is quite correct in that the new OIA regulations certainly now restrict the foreign buyers market. Then, we had the Capital Gains Tax [proposal] making a negative impact.
"But I believe it is an ideal place for the right Kiwi family who love all that the beautiful Bay of Islands has to offer and like other Omarino owners, they find the benefits of security, marina, mutual owners' lodge and clubroom, privacy and many other benefits make for a superb way of beach life."
At the property, a buyer could be as private as they liked "or as social with the other owners as you wish".
A helicopter could be landed at Wharenui "and with council permission - like other Omarino owners - a private helicopter facility could be built on the property if desired," McCollam said.
Heatley established Omarino some years ago. The property is 142ha of coastal sites. Some are hilltop while others are beachfront, many with access to what appears to be private, secluded golden bays, flanked by extensive stands of bush.
Omarino is part of what was the 747ha Bentzen Farm and is behind Russell, facing towards Urupukapuka Island. Each site goes for millions of dollars.
Heatley took the Herald on a tour of the project in 2011, explaining how the real work lay beneath the surface because roads were built, steep hillsides retained and stormwater utilities installed.
"Omarino has intentionally been given a low profile to protect its residents' privacy,'' he said of the property, which has a 5.5km coastline.
Wharenui is advertised as a resort-style environment with a heated pool and large bespoke spa. It has a two-bedroom house and den nearest the beach and two other standalone dwellings, both with large bedrooms opening to the north and the pool. A bunkhouse provides more accommodation.
It also has a bar, dining room with a teppanyaki hotplate and bench seating for 10, a wood-burning fire, games room and an international-style floodlit tennis course.
Because the McCollams love golf, they had their own extensive private facilities built, with a two-tier green and synthetic grass, three sand traps and many different tee-off areas ranging from 90m to 160m.
Omarino has an owners' clubroom designed by architect Pete Bossley.
Long time on the market
Wharenui is not the only place to stay on the market for some time.
• New Zealand's record has most likely been set by Pakatoa Island, for sale since 2006 and owned by John Ramsey who wants $40m. Asked last year about the sale, Ramsey was relaxed: "If someone wants to pay that, they can have it, otherwise it stays there."
• Te Rere Cove at 205 Church Bay Rd, Waiheke Island was on the market for seven years and actively marketed by many agents before it finally sold to financier Martyn Reesby on July 3 for a sum so far undisclosed. He only bought part of the house and vineyard property, valued last year at $24m.
• The ex-Auckland Council headquarters Civic Administration Building in Aotea Square has been empty for half a decade, with plans for it to be converted into apartments. Its sale was confirmed last month, at $3m. The process then became the subject of a complaint to the Serious Fraud Office by mayoral candidate John Tamihere, with the office declaring there was no reason to investigate the deal.