Resort's new owners plan to spend millions

A Chinese company which has bought the 1000ha Peppers Carrington resort on the Karikari peninsula in the Far North plans to spend millions of dollars developing its potential.

The new owners aim to promote the resort, which has an 18-hole golf course and 188ha vineyard, to high income Chinese tourists and others at the top end of the international tourist market, extending the present accommodation of 10 lodge rooms and 14 three-bedroom villas as demand grows.

China is already New Zealand's second largest tourism market after Australia, with 222,000 Chinese tourists coming to this country in the past year and a further 100,000 expected next year.

Shanghai CRED Real Estate has paid an undisclosed sum to buy the property from American Paul Kelly, who started developing the resort in the late 1990s.

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The Overseas Investment Office granted consent for the sale in July.

Shanghai CRED has appointed New Zealander Simon Jones, who has been at the resort for nearly six years and was formerly general manager, as CEO of the facility. His wife, Lian, has been the resort's head accountant for a year.

All 40 staff have been retained.

Mr Jones yesterday described the resort's future prospects as very positive and exciting for the Far North.

The millions of dollars which Shanghai CRED would invest to boost tourist numbers would increase jobs on the property and he said local people would be employed wherever possible.

Other planned developments include expanding the vineyard to significantly increase its present wine exports to China.

The resort's existing farming and quarrying operations will continue, a trial manuka oil extraction plant will be built, and the new owners have undertaken to continue to care for native vegetation, wetlands and archaeological sites on the property in accordance with protocols agreed with local iwi.

Public access to the 4km of beach at the resort will continue, with seasonally restricted access to an area where dotterels nest.

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Other local attractions range from Olympic-quality skeet and trap shooting, tennis and kayaking to bird watching and deep sea fishing. Most of the world's striped marlin records were set off the Karikari peninsula.

Shanghai CRED general manager Guo Gui said affluent Chinese and other international tourists staying at Peppers Carrington may also want to visit other attractions in the region, which would help revitalise tourism in the North.