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Tall Poppy Advice: Things to Know About Property in the Marlborough Sounds

Nothing is more Kiwi - or idyllic - than a home perched above the water, with its own jetty, boat mooring or boathouse.

The Marlborough Sounds at the very top of the South Island have 20% of all New Zealand’s coastline - providing more than 1000km of breathtaking beauty, and some unique properties at the water’s edge, providing direct beach and water access.

Grant Douglas, Owner of Tall Poppy Picton & Marlborough Sounds, says these types of properties are highly sought after but do require a little extra homework from prospective buyers.  Approximately 900km of coastline in the Sounds is part of the ‘Foreshore Reserve’ - essentially a 20-metre strip from water’s edge to the high-tide mark. 

“This ‘Foreshore Reserve’ is owned by the New Zealand public and looked after by the Department of Conversation (DOC).   Another 300 km is privately owned or owned by the local Council or Iwi.

“If you’ve fallen head over heels for a home which has structures on the ‘Foreshore Reserve’, you need to ensure every structure has the correct ‘authority’. Buying a property that has unauthorised structures may result in large processing costs, or worse, having to remove the structure!

Council administers moorings and jetties which need a Coastal License. DOC will consider licensing houses that are built prior to the 1991 Building Act, and any access related structures such as boatsheds, winches and jetty approaches - giving you the right to occupy the space. If you want to add a new jetty, mooring or boathouse, you will need to go through a Resource Consent process from the local Council, and the concession process with DOC,” says Grant Douglas.

There are processing costs to process your application from both Council and DOC. Once your license or permit is approved, DOC normally collects a six-monthly fee, per ‘item’ (an item includes jetty approaches, boathouse or home on the Foreshore) as you are effectively renting the area off the taxpayer.  As well as the license costs, Grant Douglas says buyers should factor in lawyer’s fees.

If you want to clear vegetation to create an access track, you will also need to apply for a permit from DOC. This permit has no ongoing rental fees, but if you want to install culverts, concrete the track or install a retaining wall, this will require a 10-year concession.

“Recently we sold a property which had a part of the home, a boatshed, jetty and also a floating jetty in the Reserve area.  This required four coastal permits, and four licenses to be transferred from the seller to the new owners. This costs around $2000 every six months, and lawyer’s fees to do the legal transfers on settlement day,” says Grant Douglas.

An experienced real estate agent will help you work the final details around Coastal Permits and Licenses. It also pays to check with your local Council and DOC. If you’re considering coastal property in the Sounds the team at Tall Poppy Picton have you covered on everything coastal and can give you expert advice. You can contact them here, or you can call Grant on 021 386 700.

Daydreaming of a home in the Sounds? Check out all our current listing here.