Property Ref: 24886

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Catlins, Whistling Frog Resort for sale in the Catlins Coast

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Property Information

The Catlins, Whistling Frog Resort is located in the Catlins, along the increasingly popular Southern Scenic Route, linking Invercargill to Balclutha-Dunedin.

This thriving business has a serious cash-flow with resulting bottom line profits for the new owner of this business. Only experienced holiday park / food and beverage / hospitality operators will be considered for this exciting business opportunity. On the back of the rapid growth being experienced, subtantial new staff accommodation is also currently being constructed. 

The Whistling Frog Resort (also known as the "McLean Falls Holiday Park" and "Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park") was established in 2006, after the Southern Scenic Route was tar sealed. “The Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar” followed soon behind, featuring a range of chef-prepared gourmet meals. It is an eco-wise establishment and try to renew, reuse and recycle where possible.

The Catlins is a popular tourist destination, known for its well established coastal rain forest, beaches and waterfalls. McLean Falls and Cathedral Caves are located in close proximity.

Premises Description
Erected on this site are a number of separate buildings used as a restaurant/cafe and accommodation for the Whistling Frog business, which we describe individually as follows:

Manager's Residence (Gatekeeper's Lodge)
Layout provides for a kitchen/dining/living room, three bedrooms with bathroom and laundry. Facilities include ample kitchen joinery, 4-plate gas range, pantry, formica bench top, with comer shower, vanity and toilet to bathroom.

Reception I Cafe I Bar plus detached toilets
Built  around  2007 with subsequent improvements,  main  building consists of the reception area for the business, restaurant & cafe, bar, kitchen , storage and public toilets. A verandah extends around part of two sides of the building, with timber deck to remaining side.

Built in 2009, these five units provide for an open plan kitchen/dining/living room, with partitioned bedroom  and toilet off. Facilities include open timber finished cupboard joinery, two element gas range, rangehood with shower, toilet and basin to the bathroom. Electric panel heaters are provided, with gas, water and cooking facilities.

Bellbird Cottage
Built in 2005, this building has a gross floor area of approx. 53m2, with attached deck. Interior partitioning provides for kitchen/dining/living area,  two  bedrooms  and  bathroom. Facilities include ample cupboard joinery to the kitchen, with shower, toilet and basin to the bathroom.

Motel Units (307-313)
Each bedroom has an ensuite off containing shower, toilet and basin. Kitchen contains built in bench  unit  with  5-plate gas range,  rangehood and island bar containing a twin sink unit. A walkway links all these units to the kitchen, together with  a central  deck.

12 separate cabins include timber piles, timber framing and floors,  weatherboard  exterior cladding, timber window joinery with Galvanised steel roof. Internal linings include hardboard and composite timber dado wall linings with pinex ceilings. Attached verandahs have timber floors, timber framing with Novalite  roof panels.

Laundry/ Staffroom
Layout provides for a laundry room, central hallway, sitting room, kitchen, toilet/shower room, storeroom and hallway.

Ablution  Block
Layout provides for a kitchen, separate male/female toilet facilities, disabled persons toilet and laundry. Male toilet facilities include three showers, two basin urinals, two partitioned toilets and twin sink unit. Female toilet facilities include three showers, three partitioned  toilets  and  stainless  steel twin wash hand basin. Kitchen has stainless steel bench  top,  cooking  facilities  with  central  dining trestle table.

TV Sitting room
This 39m2 building also enjoys a 24m2 veandah allows for a comfortable relaxation area for guest.

Other Improvements
A full gravel driveway provides motor vehicle access around this complex,  with  large car parking area  adjacent  to the Whistling  Frog Cafe/Restaurant. Campervan sites are further included, with power heads and water provided. A line of trees provide shelter to cabin buildings, and to the restaurant itself,  with a  stand  of  trees near the property  entranceway

Strategic location:
The property is strategically situated at the busy intersection of the Southern Scenic Route and Rewcastle Road, which services the tallest and many would say the most spectacular water falls in the Catlins. The park is at the gateway to the popular Cathedral Caves access road. 

The McLean Falls access, is on a ‘no exit’ road.  Visitors must pass the venue twice if they wish to see the falls. They usually arrive around lunch time. Visitor numbers to the “McLean Falls” each year exceed 30,000.

Brokers comment:

This is a very rare opportunity for an experienced couple or family already exposed to the tourism accommodation and hospitality sectors to secure a freehold going concern which is a unique operation and in such a special location.

We welcome your enquiry, please contact the specialist Tourism & Hospitality Business Broker, Peter Gale on 03 395 6751, mobile 021 608 107 or email:


The owners have put together a very a Vision Statement for any purchaser of the amazing business opportunity:

The Vision:
The  goal has been to create a high income property in the middle of the undiscovered and pristine Catlins Coastal Conservation Park. In 2001, the vendors purchased an 850 acre mixed sheep & beef farm to provide a strategic Catlins foothold and to take advantage of what they saw as a future business opportunity to reap a benefit from explosive tourism growth that was expected in the Catlins when the final portion of the Southern Scenic Route was tar sealed.

Over the past six years, the vendors have transformed this property into a tourism hub that provides a lifestyle, a personal retreat, an excellent income and a legacy to pass on to future generations. With solid marketing growth and earnings, this property is now mature. It is time for the next operators to capitalize on this vision and take the venture to the next significant income level.

Paul and Lynn Bridson, the owners  wanted  to preserve the special character and feel of the space, close to the cities of Dunedin, Stewart Island and Invercargill on the now popular Southern Scenic Route. It falls conveniently in the link between tourism hubs of Queenstown and Dunedin, via Invercargill, Stewart Island, Fjordland and Te Anau. The “Central Otago rail trail” bike path also provides a number of visitors.

The nature-based tourism industry is estimated to be growing at approximately 10-30 percent per annum, with fully 15% of these visitors coming from Australia, the United States, Europe and increasingly, China and Asia. Many New Zealand nationals and overseas visitors are now discovering the Catlins. Many tour companies are now using the resort as a tourist base for their groups, because of the location and availability of on – site dining.

Marketing & Promotion:
The project is based on a synergy of complementary enterprises and attractions. The cafe provides the opportunity and reason for people to stay overnight.   It also provides, lunch plus morning and afternoon tea trade of people not necessarily staying at the Park. The accommodation complex, locals and other accommodation providers supply the dinner guests for the cafe.

The Southern Scenic Route provides a steady stream of passing traffic. The Cathedral Caves, being low tidal dependant, plus the Lost Gypsy Curio display in Papatowai, delay them. The surrounding native forest provides a scenic environment and backdrop to the tourist complex.

The Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park, is part of a nationwide Holiday Park marketing group and has a VIP loyalty card, touring map and booking website. The resort has many diverse websites catering to special interests plus an online booking engine. They are also on international booking sites such as, AA, Travelbug and Agoda, with over 250,000 hits per day in the operational season on the main website. The site is actively promoted on Google adwords with excellent results. A GPS based advertising system called: “Tourism Radio” provides verifiable visits to our site. Consistent radio advertising over the passed three years in the Otago/Dunedin and Southland markets is also providing excellent results, by luring out locals who have never been to the Catlins.

The Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar has a dedicated website: Other sites include and,,  to name but a few.  Our facebook address is: A new Apple and Android “Catlins Hike & Drive” App, produced by the vendors, provides visitors with an interactive tour guide of the Catlins. This coupled with The Kiwi Holiday Park directory and  website,  a custom designed, color tear-off Catlins Guide Map (also produced by the Vendors), Facebook, regional radio advertising, newspaper articles and advertising, I - Sites and AA guides complete the extensive marketing activities.

In fiscal year to June 2014, $39,000 was invested in advertising. This has paid off in a 20 % increase in revenues YOY through the summer of 2015. Online Booking engines, such as: Tripadvisor,, Book-it, Travelbug, & Gopher, complement in-house marketing activities.

Most eco-tourism visitors to New Zealand wish to view wildlife. The un-crowded, Catlins coast,  is rich in easily accessible wildlife. Unlike many areas, it is possible to view freely, without restrictions; rare Hector’s dolphins, several species of endangered penguins, sea lions and seals within a short drive plus a stroll to the beaches and forests near the resort.

Resort Design and Location:

The resort property has been designed using the ‘permiculture’ model developed by Australian author,  Mr Bill Mollison, in which each portion of the project has been designed to maximize income and land use in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. Each ‘economic zone’ purposefully contributes to the whole enterprise.

The resort location was critical and is at the apex of the strategic intersection forming the Southern Scenic Route and Rewcastle Road, which forms the boundary to the developer’s farm property and includes the McLean Falls and the Tautuku trout fishing river. It is a good mid-point wilderness overnight stopover for visitors travelling from Te Anau, Queenstown, Christchurch and Dunedin. All attractions can be visited quickly from this location whether they are in the North, Central, Eastern or Southern Catlins.

This would be regarded as the largest tourist complex in the growing Catlins region. There are no complexes equal in scale and scope to this facility, providing an un-cluttered, competition-free, tourist and business environment. The concept is the “perfect place to top you up, also tucks you in”. The income never stops from dawn till dusk.  Most accommodation providers are only generating income at check in time.  The Whistling Frog Resort is generating income 7 days a week, 12 – 15 hours a day, plus at night when the bookings are coming in from all over the world.

The offer:
The freehold going concern including the Chattels and Goodwill.  The two primary units being the Tourism complex, complete with cafe, holiday park and a new three bedroom house at the entrance to the property for afterhours check ins and security.

Business Model:
Each portion of the project supports the other as a profit centre. The Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar, with reception centre and excursions booking office, supports the accommodation complex. It forms the first greeting and sales point, generating all-day income and bookings for both passing trade and park guests. It is a pay as you go business. There are virtually no ‘accounts receivable’ only trusted tour operators with whom the vendors have had a long relationship. Most first night deposits are collected at time of booking. Accounts receivable are in the form of vouchers from In-bound Tour operators or I-Sites.

Management support:
In 2012, the owners constructed a three bedroom Gatekeeper’s cottage to anchor the holiday park facility and provide for a future leasee team to enjoy a comfortable living environment, after-hours check-in plus give peace of mind for security of the property. It is at the entrance of the park and adjacent to the cafe.

Background and facilities in the Complex:
The Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar, currently being run as a family business, was purpose-built in 2005, to provide the cornerstone of the property.  It comprises 144 square meters of main building plus large covered decks to provide shelter and outdoor seating.  It has a fully equipped commercial kitchen, a new wood fired pizza oven, pantry, freezers, walk-in chiller, security system, guest reception, office, excursion booking desk and toilet block.  There is a pond with water fall and bridge that provides access to the cafe and people can view and listen to the whistling frogs and  view the tadpoles.

There is seating for approximately 36 persons indoors and 50 guests outdoors. This is in balance with the number of guests for dinner and caters well to the passing trade generated by the Cathedral Caves and McLean Falls attractions during the day. Gift lines and clothing are available for purchase. The menu is a blend of seafood and local dishes with pizza being offered at happy hour. It is a dine-in restaurant, with counter desserts, excellent coffee and craft beer and NZ wines.

An on- licence liquor permit, complements food and beverage sales income. Four beer taps are providing very strong micro brewery sales. A fountain gun provides high profit soft drinks sales.  Gourmet fruit juices are offered as well.

The facility is very highly rated by guests on Facebook and has recently won the 2014, Signature Dish, “Supreme Winner” South Otago as judged by Jamie & Becs – Masterchef  2014, Runner ups.

(1)    Accommodation & Tourism Venture Complex:
The four star plus, qualmark rated, Catlins Kiwi Holiday Park accommodation complex is adjacent to the Whistling Frog Cafe building which is the first point of contact for dining and accommodation guests. A beer garden and a playground is located next to the cafe.

The Park comprises internal roading with white pebble overlay, an amenities shower, toilet and kitchen block, plus coin- operated laundry. There is a common building for use by park guests and serves as a TV room, information center and guest lounge.  

The park is fully self-contained with a laundry infrastructure building which serves as the laundry room, staff break room with kitchen, sitting room, shower and toilet. An outdoor solar drying building saves drying costs and fits with the eco-theme. Glass bottles are ground on-site and recycled around the park property.

Accommodation Buildings: A bed for all budgets.

A five bed dorm room plus twelve cabins, which each sleep up to two persons, with one being used as an on-site spa. They rent 30% as Backpackers and 50% serviced Curio Kiwiana cabins (each with a TV & DVD player).  The backpacker tariff is:  $80 per night double occupancy, (with bottom sheet and pillow) or $95 per night for the Kiwiana cabins, all found. These cabins are historic and were originally constructed to house the dam builders in Clyde. They have been fully restored and enhanced. Guests share the park bathrooms, guest lounge and kitchen. A clear-lite covered deck with verandah provides shelter and ambience. During the peak season they assist with staff accommodation. Most staff live off-site at Papatowai in the seaside community nearby.

These are supported by seven motel style en-suite rooms with a new adjoining kitchen and common area for the exclusive use of the motel guests. In keeping with the eco-friendly theme, these buildings were restored and re-located from the Te Anau Luxmore Hotel.  The tariff is: $150 per night.  Three can sleep three persons or act as a twin for: $150 per night or $165 per night triple occupancy. All have satellite digital TV’s and DVD players.

Five, very popular, (one with disabled access) new, purpose-built, self-contained one bedroom chalets have been added to cater to parties of four or five depending on the configuration. They also have satellite TV’s and DVD players. The tariff is: $215 per night for up to four persons. One family unit sleeps five in a queen, double/single bunk configuration.

One, two bedroom self-contained, cottage is available for parties of up to six. It is disabled accessible as well. TV and DVD equipped. Stereo. The tariff is:  $245 per night.

In 2012, a three bedroom Gatekeepers Cottage, was built for parties of up to six. The tariff is: $370 per night. It has a fireplace, large living area, large kitchen and dining space. It is ideal for conferences with a clearlite covered verandah. This building was designed as a contingent future on-site manager’s or leasee’s cottage.
The large campervan customer base, which frequents the Catlins is catered to with thirty six, powered van sites on level, all-weather sites, at $50 per night for two persons. Tent sites make up the balance of the accommodation offerings on grass with sheltered sites. The tariff is:  $44 per night for two persons or $22 each. All guests are offered our free guide map, free WIFI vouchers and free DVD rentals from our extensive library.

The cafe was open year round for the first time in 2013. This has increased the off-season earning potential of the facility. Spring currently has six staff to operate the complex, with a total of ten hourly accommodation, management and cafe staff who run the whole facility in the busy summer season. They are on seasonal contracts. Two seasonal employees run the Park plus a chef and front of house manager, run the cafe over the winter months. This could also be done by a chef couple with cafe experience.

Water & waste treatment:
The park facility is supplied by an in-house water scheme including water bore located adjacent to the park parcel, with pumphouse, filter house, plus supplemental rainfall in three gravity operated storage tanks totalling approximately 100,000 litres to service the park complex .
A drainfield is located 300 meters from the complex in an underground soak field.  A 33,000 litre septic tank with a 1,000 litre pump chamber processes the property’s effluent.

Income & future potential:
The property has now completed the final stage of construction and as a result income is increasing. Marketing has been extensive and is paying dividends in increased bookings and positive word - of – mouth.
The hard work has now been done. It is time to move to the next level.

Gross Income from the property, including all operations, was hampered by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, but returns are now solidifying as the business is reaching maturity plus tourism and economic conditions continue to improve.  

In 2013 – 2014, sales were very strong plus forward bookings and cafe income grew. 2015 has proven to be even higher growth of around 20% YOY. Positive income tracking is now being carried out with a Lavu Point of Sale system. Solid returns on investment provided by the assets and efforts of the vendors over the past 12 years will provide positive momentum for future income and capital gains growth on the lease and business. As the business matures towards the ten year mark, further income growth from improving market conditions should be realised.

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  • Taking-the-Scenic-Route-Otago-Daily-Times-Story.docx - 26.4 KB

  • Valuation.pdf - 1.6 MB

  • Financials WFRL-SALE-OF-BUS-2016.pdf - 282.3 KB

  • Business-Plan.pdf - 405.4 KB

  • Whistling-Frog-site-plan.pdf - 461.2 KB

  • Proposed staff area floor plan - 53.1 KB

  • Summer-2017-Menus.pdf - 2.3 MB

A selection of Tripadvisor comments:

Warm, Comforable Lodgings in the Middle of the Catlins Rainforest.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 26 February 2015
After a beautiful drive through the Catlins rainforest on the way to Invergargill, out of curiosity, I pulled into The Whistling Frog Café and Bar. This place is essentially a van park in between Dunedin and Invercargil. They have camping and van site , with the option cabins, which I opted for. Once the heater was on , the cabin was comfy and cosy, with all the necessary basics. If, like myself, you rolled up without food, the restaurant/ bar had a wide array of food available, albeit not opening for breakfast until 10 am. If you had food with you, they have a fully functional communal kitchen. Located where it is, you might easily drive right by, but you will certainaly miss a beautiful part of the south coast. There are several beautiful rainforest walks , right out of the park and more off the beaten trail than other walks I encountered. Also this is a great point to head out late afternoon to view the sealions at Curio Bay. The staff are very helpful and you wont be disappointed by pulling up here, if only for a coffee. Visited October 2014

A welcome break”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 21 February 2015
We stopped on a trip in round the Catlins.
Some beautiful scenery en route but none to look at there.
Service was great and staff very helpful.
Outside seating area clean as was inside.
Toilets clean.
Worth a visit. Visited February 2015

“Value for money”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 8 February 2015
What a delight to take our guest to this lovely Cafe. Excellent service, great food and not over priced. The Cafe was busy however the service was quick but we were not rushed. We will certainly be returning to The Whistling Frog Cafe & recommending to the Guests that stay at the HeritageHub Caravan Park at Tuapeka Mouth. (for self contained campers) Visited February 2015

“An unexpected treat”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 February 2015
What a wonderful setting, in the heart of the Catlins. We stopped on a wet and windy day and felt so welcomed by the friendly staff. You must try their blue cod - in fact try everything - it is all delicious.
Visited December 2014

“Fantastic place!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 February 2015
We stumbled across this place as we were trying to find somewhere to stay for the night. The accommodation was clean and we liked the eco-friendly aspect of it. The staff were super friendly and went out of their way to help us. Definitely recommend!!

“Can't wait to go back”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 February 2015
Spent a week staying here just after New Years. Amazing experience! We stayed in a reasonably priced cabin with shared facilities. Showers and toilets were clean and no charge for Hot water! Cabin included a tv with DVD player (free dvd hire at cafe) & side table with kettle. As we were staying for a while we were able to experience breakfast, lunch & dinner, all of which exceeded our expectations. The bar had a good selection of beers, ciders & cocktails, it made my partner smile to see Boundary Road flying Fortress on tap - legends!
Staff were very attentive and helpful we had a Vegetarian with us & even though there was a vege option, they went above and beyond to create a meal for him that wasn't on the menu! Breakfast you can't go past the big breakfast with Scrambled eggs! Yum!! For lunch I highly recommend the Kiwi lamb burger! Its Divine! Comes out on a big rustic wooden board with homemade aioli & fries seasoned with paprika. And my favorite for dinner was the steak, perfectly cooked at MR it was juicy and tender, the mushroom filo was a nice touch. Can't wait to go back. Already planning our next trip! Visited January 2015

“Best meal ever!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 28 January 2015
I had heard amazing things about The Whistling Frog and when I arrived there it was even better than I had hoped. The wait staff were lovely, attentive and went all out to make sure a great experience was had.
I ordered the Seafood Chowder which was literally the best I've ever had, such fresh ingredients and wonderful food for somewhere in the middle of no where. Over my stay I also had a couple of other meals including their big breakfast which had bacon fresh from their smoker which was done that morning and the lamb burger for lunch which had a home made pattie. You can definitely tell that the wait staff and kitchen staff put a lot of thought ad effort into their food and their service. I also met Sonic their family dog who is a friendly chap who comes to hangout with the guests as the holiday park welcomes dogs / is dog friendly for travellers which I feel makes for a homely atmosphere. I left The Whistling Frog happy and satisfied, definitely worth checking out as one of the main attractions and experiences in the Catlins. Visited January 2015

 “Great place”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 28 January 2015
Great place to base yourself whilst roaming around the catlins. Rented a chalet was just perfect everything I needed very cute, beautiful park to stay. I strolled to the whistling frog for food and a few cleansing ales excellent service, yummy chowder and hail to the ale. Will defiantly return.

“Absolutely fantastic!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 25 January 2015
We hooked our caravan on and drove. We came across this place and pulled in. The staff were friendly. We booked in for a night. The cafe was clean and very well presented. The food was amazing. We ended up having all our meals here. Will defiantly be going back and taking friends with us.
Highly recommend walking up to the then waterfall there as well

“Great food and facilities”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 25 January 2015
After walking to the falls, we stopped in for lunch. It was peak season, and they should have had at least one more staff member waiting tables. Great to use a flushing toilet after all the DoC longdrops! It was nice to see a children's menu that wasn't just fries and chicken nuggets (or similar); there were actually sophisticated choices for a small person. I had the most delicious pie I have ever eaten. Visited January 2015

“Great place to stop”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 24 January 2015
Just popped in for something to eat before walking to the water falls. All I can say is great service and food. Next time i will make it a stop over.

“Hidden Gem”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 10 January 2015
As we were travelling from Dunedin to Invercargill on the Southern Scenic Route we decided to take time to explore the area and booked in to the Whistling Frog for one night in a cabin. We opted for the Stay and dine package and we were not disappointed. The meal was one of the best we have had in quite some time, the staff were friendly and efficient and the food was fantastic. We will definitely be returning next time we are in New Zealand

 “Amazing in every way!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 January 2015
The whole experience at Whistling Frog Cafe and Bar was perfection. The staff are very friendly and exceed expectations of making my partner, and our young children and I feel very welcome and comfortable. They have created a family feel, and was truly a positive experience for us all. Our chalet accomodation was pristine and in a lovely native setting....