A Chinese company is planning to build a resort on a large coastal farm it has been given approval to buy near Auckland.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has granted consent for Weihai Station to buy 595 hectares of land at 152 Baker Rd, Waikaretu – about 100km southwest of Auckland.
The sheep and beef farm is being sold by the Deane Farms Trust.
Weihai Station said in its application to the OIO it would continue farming operations and invest in farm development and maintenance to improve its performance.
The company also intends to build a lodge on the land which will be "primarily used as a training and development facility and as a tourism resort for related business people", the OIO said.
The sale satisfied the OIO in that it brought "substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand" through increased exports, productivity and investment. Weihai Station also intends to increase walking access in the area and offered to gift a riverbed to the Crown.
One of the few businesses in Waikaretu is Nikau Cave and Cafe which opened its doors in 2008.
Owner Anne Woodward, who has lived in the area for more than three decades, said the community was very small and quiet.
"It's a very little known area because it's well off the beaten track," Woodward said.
The township was set a few kilometres back from the coast and featured a school with about 10 children, a tennis club and a community hall.
The community needed more people especially because the school was marginal to operate, she said.
"It would be fantastic to have more people living in Waikaretu."
The beach was not accessible to the public because it was private land, she said.
There was a bush reserve near the cafe and caves with glow worms.
Weihai Station's lawyer was unavailable for comment on Wednesday and the Deane Farms Trust trustees could not be contacted.
The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand was not aware of the resort plans.