Iconic tourist attraction on the block amid the pandemic

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Co-owner Richard Klein said the sale of Taupō's iconic tourist attraction, Huka Prawn Park, was not

Chris Marshall / Stuff

Co-owner Richard Klein said the sale of Taupō’s iconic tourist attraction, Huka Prawn Park, was “not a knee-jerk reaction to Covid.”

Huka Prawn Park on the banks of the Waikato River just north of Taupō is for sale.

But co-owner Richard Klein said the decision to sell the tourist attraction had been on the radar for about five years and was not “a knee-jerk reaction to Covid or go bankrupt or anything like that.”

“We are all happy and healthy, but I have just completed my 30 year term, and it is time for a change.”

He had repositioned management structures and obtained authorizations and resource leases to put the park in place for the long term, Klein said.

NINA AND RAFE DORDAY / STUFF

Nina and Rafe Dorday take us on a road trip to Taupō during school holidays.

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Founded in 1987 to farm Malaysian giant river shrimp, using geothermal water from Contact Energy’s Wairakei geothermal power station as a heat source, the company has suffered in recent years from low shrimp survival rates and failure. has not offered shrimp fishing to tourists since December 2020.

However, new blood stocks have been sought to address the issue, according to sales information.

Shrimp may be on the menu, but catching them has not been an activity at Huka Prawn Park since December 2020.

Provided

Shrimp may be on the menu, but catching them has not been an activity at Huka Prawn Park since December 2020.

The 12 hectare attraction in the state-owned Wairakei Tourist Park has diversified over the years to offer a range of water activities in addition to its shrimp hatchery, nursery and restaurant. seat 300 and is advertised as a going concern.

“We are also slowly approaching the shrimp problem, but it’s just going to take time, all of it is going to take time, like Covid … But it’s not a recent decision for the company – even getting ready for an appeal. deals takes a long time. You don’t just take them out of the fresh air.

Klein, a 50 percent shareholder, the other half of which is from the Toomey family of Wellington, said there had been “some interest so far” in the upcoming tender. closes on November 3.

Empty ponds at Huka Prawn Park awaiting reuse or return of giant shrimp from the Malaysian river.

Chris Marshall / Stuff

Empty ponds at Huka Prawn Park awaiting reuse or return of giant shrimp from the Malaysian river.

He wouldn’t suggest value.

“Companies do their due diligence and determine what they’re willing to pay for the opportunity. It is very difficult to assess a business like this … resource authorizations obviously have a significant value, especially the large volumes of geothermal catch and discharge, obviously there is our location next to the river. It’s for an entrepreneur.

Pre-covid, the park attracted more than 75,000 customers per year, with many Chinese among the international visitors.

About 40% of traditional visitors to the park were international, Klein said, and these were only partially offset by the number of domestic visitors, although the proximity to Auckland’s people was a plus.

In recent years, Huka Prawn Park has branched out into a water theme park.

Chris Marshall / Stuff

In recent years, Huka Prawn Park has diversified into a water theme park.

In October 2020, the company received a grant of $ 500,000 and a loan of $ 272,000 from the government’s Strategic Tourism Asset Protection program – one of 130 companies nationwide to receive grants. and loans – with the aim of protecting the country’s essential tourism offerings and ensuring their survival despite the disruption. caused by Covid-19.

Just as Klein said a water-themed campaign would be launching soon for the summer, the sales materials played on the potential for further diversification.

He said buyers could further develop the park as a family destination, or use the permissions and location of the resources for new opportunities – suggesting a geothermal amusement park, day spa or hot tubs at the riverbank.

The company has a long-term heat supply contract for nearly 20,000 cubic meters of geothermal hot water per day.

The 12 hectare attraction in Crown-owned Wairakei Tourist Park is advertised as a going concern.

Chris Marshall / Stuff

The 12 hectare attraction in Crown-owned Wairakei Tourist Park is advertised as a going concern.

At the peak of its production in the mid-1990s, it was able to produce up to 30 tonnes of shrimp per year, 90% of which was eaten at the establishment’s bar-grill and the rest sold to gourmet restaurants elsewhere. in New Zealand.

Shrimp, harvested between 9 and 10 months old, cost an average of $ 30 to $ 40 per kilogram.


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