Strong early interest in cutting rights to forests

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2013

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Cutting rights to one of the country's largest forestry estates are being offered by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The 5430-hectare estate consists of nine blocks in the Wellington "metro" area and three in the Wairarapa. They are valued at $28.5 million and the council hopes to sell all the rights to one buyer.

LJ Hooker rural sales agent Warwick Searle said it was one of the largest estates to test the market for some time. The forests were in a good spot, with nearby port access, low fire risk and an immediate harvest.

"Judging by the inquiry we've had... there is real demand for this type of asset."

Searle said the sale was significant not only for its size and value, but because it allowed the council to retain ownership of the land.

Proceeds would be used to repay debt incurred to fund the forests, which was expected to rise to about $35m by 2022.

Searle anticipated interest to come from New Zealanders already involved in the sale or marketing of domestic forests, and corporates with processing facilities.

However, he also expected them to appeal to overseas buyers seeking woodlots to secure long-term supply.

The forests were already receiving interest from China, where they were showcased at a Beijing property expo this month.

Tenders close on August 22.

The 12 forests are: Akatarawa Saddle, Hukinga, Mangaroa, Maungakotukutuku, Pakuratahi East, Pakuratahi West, Puketiro, Valley View and Whakatikei in the Wellington "metro" area, and Hiwinui, Stoney Creek and Tauanui in the Wairarapa.

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