Some of the best bets in investment are in the rural sector – and the pick of the crop is here in our backyard.

WORDS ANDY TAYLOR / PHOTOS SUPPLIED

With all the hype around house prices and developments in New Zealand’s main centres, it’s easy to forget that some of our best-performing investments are to be found outside of our CBDs. Rural properties have been reliable performers for years, and anyone with long-term experience in the industry will tell you some of the most exciting and interesting options are still to be found in the countryside, and that right now the Bay of Plenty is where success stories can still be written. 

To get the lowdown on rural property investment, UNO sat down with Matt Clutterbuck of Bayleys Country. Bayleys has decades of experience in rural investment and at a recent speaking event, Matt opened our eyes as to why people are being drawn to it. 

“It’s an exciting time to be investing in the agricultural sector,” he says. “There really have never been so many opportunities to not only grow your investment but also make a lifestyle change. We’ve seen huge growth in horticulture throughout the Bay; kiwifruit has been the golden child in that respect, but there has also been good growth in avocados, blueberries and other such industries, which is something we’ve been predicting.

“We’re seeing a lot of buyers who want to invest in a property that provides an income and that they can be actively involved in, outside of your traditional investments. You can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you want with horticulture, and I think that’s the beauty of it and why it’s attracting a certain type of investor. You can employ a team to come in and do everything – pruning, picking, the works – or you can take care of the husbandry yourself and get someone in for the rest. Do as much or as little as you want.” 

Lifestyle blocks have led horticulture on the sales front for years now, and this recent shift shows just howimportant it is to get good advice from people who know the industries involved and where they’re headed. “There’s a huge growth in horticulture and it comes down to the success of Zespri and the markets they’ve built up and invested in offshore,” says Matt. “The demand for their product is very strong, so it’s a great time to be getting involved in an industry that’s exciting – and a great community as well. 

“What I think makes us unique here is that we have the investment opportunities as well as the lifestyle,” he continues. “Most places have one or the other – we have both. And our proximity means that we’re within a three-hour drive of some pretty awesome places, though even just staying within the Bay means we have access to a pretty cool lifestyle.”

Perhaps most importantly, the Bay of Plenty offers diversity. Horticulture, dairy, beef, forestry – all of these industries are here and all of them are doing very well indeed. “With dairy and grazing, the story has very much been steady as she goes, and for many people that consistency is what’s attractive,” says Matt. “I also think we could see some growth in the next year or two around dairy sales, partly because we’re seeing some farms being converted to horticulture.

“Lifestyle properties are still in hot demand, either by people wanting to get out of the city or expats returning and wanting to get into the Kiwi dream. There are people in the Waikato, Auckland, Wellington and other centres wanting to move here, because the Bay of Plenty is a place where you can still get into growing businesses and industries.” 

Matt believes there’s still lots of room for growth because of the Bay’s climate and soil, and because we have good access to most areas in the North Island and a major port, which means we can play on a global stage. This is a sentiment echoed by Bayleys agent Snow Williams (who you can read more about at unomagazine.co.nz) – and with almost 30 years’ experience in the business, Snow should know.

“There’s so much opportunity here, and it’s going from strength to strength,” he says. “It comes down to the environment. There have been a lot of very clever people who have travelled the world trying to find the same combination of weather and soil types we have here, handed to us on a plate, and it’s exciting to see what smart people with get-up-and-go are doing with all this potential. It’s just a great way to live and a great way to get where you want to be.” 

“We have a good mix of long-term experience and youthful enthusiasm coming through at Bayleys, and I believe it’s that combination that makes us so effective,” says Matt. “We’re also plugged into the national network. Bayleys is the number one ranked rural real estate brand in New Zealand, and having access to that network keeps us up to date with what’s happening all over the country. Although we focus on the Bay, we see the bigger picture and that can be a real bonus. 

“We operate as a team, and teamwork counts. Sport has been my background – rugby and waka ama – so being a part of a team bringing individual strengths to the fore to work together as a whole is really rewarding. That’s what we bring to the table at Bayleys – working together with our clients as part of the team to help make success stories happen here.” 

BAYLEYS.CO.NZ/RURAL
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