Cafe close to famous Otago Rail Trail

4:55 PM Friday January 19, 2018 True Commercial

The Stationside Cafe at Lauder, Central Otago, is near the Otago Rail Trail. Photo / Supplied

The Stationside Cafe at Lauder in Central Otago trades in a part of New Zealand with air so clear an atmospheric research laboratory has been established based nearby.

The closeness of this NIWA facility isn’t lost on ABC business sales agents Ricky Cockerill and Jono Kennedy, who are selling the thriving cafe business, plus the freehold property it stands upon.

The offering comprises 4000sq m of fertile land, with cafe building and separate residential dwelling beside the Otago Central Rail Trail.

Its location is a little out of the way — 36 Lauder-Matakanui Rd, about an hour from Queenstown — yet known to cycling enthusiasts the world over.

“Most who cycle the trail seem to stop here; the cafe has become quite famous both within New Zealand and among overseas visitors,” says Cockerill.

“The decision by owners Shirley and Alan Vette to sell creates an incredible opportunity in my view. For an asking price of just $600,000, a buyer can take over a thriving lifestyle business, by a major tourist attraction in one of the most desirable parts of the country.”

Now in its seventh year of operation, Cockerill says the cafe’s sun-drenched-porches host thousands of tourists and locals.

The owners Shirley and Alan Vette fell in love with this location when they first arrived there on holiday some 15 years ago.

“They loved the Lauder area so much they persuaded a local farmer to carve off a piece of land for them — and they chose well,” says Cockerill.

“The cafe is close to the Poolburn Gorge, which is one of the most popular sections of the trail – attracting 20,000 cyclists a season.”

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The cafe hosts thousands of hungry and thirsty cyclists every year. Photo / Supplied

He notes that trail cyclists work up king-sized appetites — daily dropping their bikes outside the cafe, then ordering food and drink to partake of during a well earned rest.

“The first time I went to the area I was just blown away by its beauty. I immediately felt calmed by the rolling hills and backdrop of snow-capped mountains and understood why Shirley and Alan chose the site,” he says.

Cockerill says Lauder holds a special position in New Zealand history, being named by the British civil engineer and artist John Turnbull Thomson who played an instrumental role in the development of the early infrastructure of 19th century Singapore and New Zealand.

“Early in 1856 he emigrated to New Zealand, working a chief surveyor of the Otago Province until 1873. Turnbull married Dunedin lass Jane Williamson and from 1876 until 1879 he was Surveyor-General of New Zealand. He was also the original surveyor of the city of Invercargill.

“The town of Lauder became a railway town and supplied ballast from a nearby quarry to support the rail network. And significant portion of that Otago rail network is now part of the rail trail.”

Shirley and Alan built the cafe in 2010, demonstrating clever foresight into how popular the trail would become, he says.

“Tourists flock in to cycle through dramatic landscape. And so with such a booming business, they reasoned that it would also be a good idea to build a residence on site. This was completed in 2014, with a Central Otago miner’s cottage theme, and it offers all the luxuries of modern living.

“Living on site enables a short 30-second stroll to work. But the real magic happens in the kitchen, which is designed to be light and easy to navigate. Shirley has developed a menu, using seasonal produce, one hearty and healthy enough to satisfy health conscious cyclists. With a BYO consent in place, a Central Otago Pinot Noir goes down beautifully with a slice of raspberry and dark chocolate brownie.”

Cockerill says Alan Vette is a Department of Conservation employee and has the responsibility of keeping the area in its beautiful state. “Alan loves his job and you can see the results of his labour in the local public and heritage properties. He is obviously good at this, and certainly practices what he preaches as he keeps their own property meticulous.

“Shirley and Alan work hard over the spring and summer months, and then have an extended break over winter, when things are a little quieter. But following 15 years they’re looking forward to spending to more time with their grand children. So a new owner can now fall in love with Central Otago as so many people already have. Perhaps this person will take the business to the next level, by developing cabins on the land.”