Once a defence installation, Kingfish Lodge now appeals to wedding and conference clientele.
A secluded luxury waterfront lodge which has hosted Hollywood movie stars such as Robin Williams, Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, and Nicole Kidman has been placed on the market for sale through a receivership process.
Kingfish Lodge in Northland's Whangaroa Harbour started life as the Northland Fishing Lodge in the late 1930s, but was requisitioned by the Crown after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
It operated as a defence installation throughout World War II - with the New Zealand Army preparing for what it believed was a potential invasion by Japan. The lodge returned to private ownership in 1953, when it was renamed Kingfish Lodge.
In its hey-day, Kingfish Lodge was one of New Zealand's premier high-end leisure destinations - alongside the likes of Huka Lodge near Taupo, Solitaire Lodge on the shores of Lake Tarawera, Grasmere Lodge near Arthur's Pass, and Pen-y-bryn near Oamaru.
In more recent years it was the home of the late Edward Poulter (Eb) Leary, a colourful defence lawyer who defended Mr Asia drug syndicate kingpin Terry Clark.
Eb Leary became an honorary Far Northerner when his first wife Geraldine (who died in 2006) won $830,000 in Lotto, and the couple bought Kingfish Lodge to develop into an exclusive game fishing resort. They lived there for almost a decade.
The 12-suite retreat on almost 12 hectares of waterfront land is trading in receivership. Kingfish Lodge commands nightly rack rates of between $325 and $900 in the high season.
The property is now being marketed for sale by Bayleys Real Estate, through a receivership tender process closing on March 17 unless sold prior.
Bayleys salesperson Chester Rendell said the lodge business would suit an experienced accommodation provider with a degree of marketing expertise. He said that as a stand-alone destination resort, the venue would benefit from a new and invigorated marketing strategy with a greater digital and online presence.
Rendell said various sections of Kingfish Lodge's buildings had undergone substantial modernisation and refurbishment work over the past few years, including:
• Re-piling some of the foundations under the main communal area.
• Replacing roofing, drainage and sewerage.
• Redecorating and re-furnishing, re-plumbing and rewiring all guest suites and the main lounge and dining areas.
• Upgrading bathroom amenities in the guest suites.
• Installation of energy-efficient LED lighting and hot water heat pumps.
"This sector of the market appeals to the wedding and conference business clientele," he said.
Accommodation at Kingfish Lodge consists of 11 'super king' suites - with three capable of accommodating an additional two people in open plan family rooms. The property also has the 'Commanding Officer's Suite' - a self-contained building billed as the premium accommodation option that was formerly the owner/manager's private residence before major renovation and redecoration in 2013.
All guest rooms are fitted with supreme comfort super king beds, stocked bar fridges with tea and coffee making essentials, and ensuite bathrooms. The lodge's food and beverage amenities feature a 72-seat events space, 32-seat restaurant, and 17-seat restaurant deck, with adjacent bar, and comfortable guest lounge. The lodge is fully licensed to serve resident guests and visitors.
All hospitality spaces are serviced by a commercial-grade kitchen consisting of walk-in fridge/freezers, with modern Waldorf LPG eight-hob cooker and oven, grillers, deep fryer, Starline dish washer, and Centaur under-bench refrigeration.
Water for the lodge is drawn from natural springs on the property using a gravity-fed system to supply the rooms and kitchen. Rendell said Kingfish Lodge's landholding consisted of 12 unit titles - allowing for the potential to build more individually-owned chalets which could be sold off via a public offering, or leased back to the lodge.
Also included in the sale are five swing moorings and three Mediterranean moorings for stern mooring off a pontoon. Kingfish Lodge is only accessible by water and air, and is a 10 minute boat ride from the small settlement of Whangaroa - which has motel accommodation at a handful of venues, or rooms in the town's country pub hotel.
Additionally for sale is a 1345sq m waterfront section next to the Marlin Hotel in Whangaroa - used for guest parking by Kingfish Lodge customers.