Nearly lost at sea, Northland pub now for sale

9:00 AM Wednesday July 22, 2015 Colin Taylor

The landmark Mangaturoto Hotel on SH12 south of Whangarei.

The landmark Maungaturoto Hotel, a feature pub on the Twin Coast Discovery State Highway 12 sixty kilometres south of Whangarei, has been put up for sale.

The historic hotel was reportedly built in a prefabricated form about 1902 in the Onehunga yard of Johnny Rowe who was then Mayor of Onehunga and who owned a building company. It was then transported by sea and overland to its current site.

“If the Maungaturoto’s walls could talk she would have some great yarns to spin,” says Brian Caldwell, Bayleys sales and leasing agent who, with colleague Michael Nees, is marketing the tenanted freehold property for sale by way of private treaty closing at 4 pm on Thursday August 13 at 4 pm.

Caldwell says the hotel had its founding when a brewery owner purchased a liquor licence for transfer to the current site of the Maungaturoto Hotel. Under the law at the beginning of the 20th century, the licence owner had a limited period to construct the new premises.

The classic Kiwi pub was almost lost at sea on two occasions as it made a treacherous journey north via the Manukau and Kaipara Harbours by tug, barge and cattle punt.

Poor weather, a leaky vessel and drunken crew members hampered the transport process and builders then had a race against time to piece together the prefabricated hotel on-site before the liquor licence transfer period lapsed.

Fortunately they managed to erect a single frame, hang a door and nail the licence to it on the day the transfer period was due to expire.

“The Maungaturoto Hotel has since enjoyed almost cult status among local residents and travellers passing through on their way to Langs Beach, Waipu and popular holiday spots further north,” Caldwell says.

He says the Maungaturoto Hotel has a loyal customer base as it is one of the only liquor outlets in the area, alongside a supermarket and a handful of sports clubs.

“It presents an opportunity to purchase a piece of New Zealand’s heartland history and the focal point of a rural and expanding lifestyle community. This hotel is a much loved part of the community and one that is ripe for redevelopment.

“We have seen some shining examples of taverns like this. Look at the Matakana Pub, it has undergone something of a renaissance thanks to a facelift, a menu rethink and owners that are willing to inject some innovation into their business,” Caldwell says.

According to the Kaipara District Plan, the Maungaturoto Hotel is listed as being of heritage value.

Caldwell says that in general terms this means that the exterior of the building must be retained, but modernisation of the interior is likely to be permitted to allow for the ongoing use of the building.

The current tenants have occupied the premises since April 2012 on a 10 year term paying annual rent of $57,200.

The two-storey building and car parking is held in four contiguous titles totalling an area of 1.323 hectares with a parcel of undeveloped grazing land to the rear of the hotel.

Kaipara District Council planning maps show the land to be zoned Commercial with the adjoining parcel of land zoned Rural.
The ground floor area of the hotel building is 360 sq m, including a dining room with an open fireplace and capacity to seat 35 people. The kitchen boasts an original Shacklock Coalburner, a gas cooker and two large stainless steel food preparation areas.  French doors lead from the sports bar out to a partially covered verandah that overlooks a bandstand green and barbecue area.

The upper accommodation level measures 234 sq m made up of the manager’s accommodation, three double bedrooms, a bathroom and French doors that open to a verandah overlooking the carpark area.

A 180 kg lift from the cellar beneath the storage room allows supplies to be transported easily to the kitchen, bar and chiller.

Guests are offered a choice of eight fully furnished rooms in double and twin configurations for $60 per night, or single configurations for $40 per night.

Caldwell says the property is piquing the interests of developers, long term investors and tavern operators that can envision its potential.

 “It is just a short drive from State Highway One carrying all the tourist traffic to destinations north of Auckland which is less than 90 minutes’ drive south. Potential buyers would be well positioned to draw from this holiday traffic and look to establish the premises as an entertainment venue akin to the Mangawhai Tavern, Leigh Sawmill Café and Coroglen Tavern.”

“The classic Kiwi tavern is an enduring piece of our national heritage that is unlikely to fall out of favour with customers. The bones are there to take this property to the next level and develop it into a destination, rather than a pit stop,” Caldwell says.

Maungaturoto township is a quiet service centre for the surrounding rural community and retains one of two large Fonterra milk processing plants in Northland that serves as one of the main employers in the district.

Within the township are a range of shops, grocery outlets, vehicle servicing and medical centres. Nearby Whangarei and Wellsford provide a wider range of retail, professional and commercial services, and

Primary and secondary schooling is available within close driving distance including Otamatea High School, Maungaturoto Primary School and Otamatea Christian School.

Brian Caldwell.jpg

 Brian Caldwell of Bayleys.

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