The animal park of birds is on sale
Business investors set to take flight as bird park goes up for sale
The land, buildings and business home to one of New Zealand’s iconic bird and wildlife parks have been put on the market for sale.
The “Owlcatraz” Bird and Wildlife Park in Horowhenua Township in Shannon, 35 kilometers south of Palmerston North, stretches over some 6.67 hectares of bush surrounding a watershed of natural wetlands.
Native birds on display in the specially designed ‘Owlcatraz’ enclosures in the park’s mature bush and stream-fed lake include morepork, the North Island weka, while the bush attracts a variety of other native bird species. Guided tours of the property also introduce guests to donkeys, alpacas, deer, pig, and cattle. Meanwhile, a variety of other small birds and animals – including a miniature horse, rabbits and guinea pigs roam a secluded picnic and play area.
The support building infrastructure on the property includes the original Shannon Prison dating from 1911. The prison was last used to house offenders in 1972, when it was decommissioned. “Owlcatraz” acquired the lease for the historic building in 1996, and it now houses what is believed to be New Zealand’s largest collection of ornamental owls – totaling over 1,000 exhibits.
Other structures on the property include a four bedroom owner / manager residence, a complex of semi-submerged man-made caverns leading to a ‘glowworm’ cave complex, a purpose-built owl enclosure and a miniature on the theme of Thomas the Tank Engine railroad operation – with its own “station” and its own platform for passengers.
Now the freehold property and operating business “Owlcatraz” Native Bird and Wildlife Park at 44 Margaret Street in Shannon is being marketed for sale through Bayleys Feilding. Vendors Justin Pape, Paul Hofmann, and Shelley Grieve said that while “Owlcatraz” had historically hosted wildlife viewing tours, the business had the potential to become a vertically integrated hospitality operation.
Mr Pape said there were multiple business expansion opportunities for ‘Owlcatraz’ to attract a much larger market – taking advantage of a large, underutilized open grassed area overlooking the property’s bush edge. .
“With picturesque views of landscaped parks and mature wetlands, the ‘Owlcatraz’ property could be transformed into a licensed event venue serving the wedding and private function markets of the Manawatu and Kapiti Coast / Horowhenua areas,” Mr Pape said.
“Owlcatraz” currently has a basic food and drink capacity – serving tea and coffee to visitors. However, the addition of a commercial catering operation – both from a kitchen and hospitality perspective through the opening of a café, for example – would allow the company to significantly increase sales. average visitor spending on guided tours.
“By taking this direction of function location further along the supply chain, there would be the potential – subject to board consents – to develop commercial accommodation units at ‘Owlcatraz’…. from vacation cabins or motel units to glamping tents. These accommodation facilities could of course be used by guests who book meetings at the reception venue.
“Alternatively, the open flat land could accommodate a motorhome park. While the property currently allows vehicles to park on-site, the placement of additional amenities such as a high-end shower unit or a shared kitchen, may well attract higher usage and booking rates. . The construction of a block of communal facilities would also meet the needs of a glamping clientele.
Mr Pape said the existing four-bedroom accommodation on the property could be turned into a short-term accommodation residence – bookable through the main “Owlcatraz” website, or third-party marketing brands such as Airbnb. There was also the option to additionally purchase a separate two-bedroom accommodation on its own surrounded by the “Owlcatraz” land.
“Depending on the cash reserves and business plans of potential buyers, the development of ‘Owlcatraz’ hosting potential could be implemented gradually over several years, or simultaneously to simultaneously generate all potential income sources – building on the company’s long-standing reputation as an ecological sanctuary, ”he said.
“From an ecological point of view, there is also an opportunity to increase the diversity of New Zealand wildlife presented as part of the ‘Owlcatraz’ experience – such as developing breeding programs or adding ‘other species. Adding high mountain animals such as tahr or chamois would also add diversity to the farm experience.
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