Otago’s historic Dansey’s Pass Hotel for sale

5:00 AM Saturday July 2, 2016 Colin Taylor

The historic Dansey’s Pass Hotel catered to horse drawn coach traffic in 1862).

Otago’s historic Dansey’s Pass Hotel, which catered in the 1800s to horse drawn coach passengers and a community of 3000 gold prospectors including many Chinese, has been put on the market for sale as a freehold property and going concern business. 

“The opportunities for this very special tourist hospitality property are numerous,” says Simon Haslett of Resort Brokers Ltd who is marketing 3474 Danseys Pass Road, Kyeburn Diggings, Central Otago, for sale by private negotiation for an asking price of over $2.5 million.

The property comprises a total building floor area of 1195sq m on a site of 14,674sq m which includes parking space for up to 20 vehicles.

“Freehold going concern properties of this reputation and stature are extremely rare,” says Haslett.

The hotel, with 19 queen-sized rooms and mostly ensuite bathrooms, dates back to 1862 and is set on 14 hectares of picturesque rural land with a small tree-lined river running below.

According to A Condensed History of Kyeburn Diggings, the stonework of the original hotel was laid by a mason known as Happy Bill who was paid for his services in beer – receiving one pint for every schist-boulder shaped and laid. Local legend has it that, after one particularly busy day on-site at the hotel, the paid and sated craftsman fell into an open grave in the cemetery where he slept the night away.

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The lounge and fireplace within the historic Dansey’s Pass Hotel is a favourite gathering place for pre and after dinner drinks. 

The inn was also a popular stopover for wagon train teams plying their trade between the Waitaki Basin and the Central Otago goldfields and travelling on to the more remote gold prospecting areas of Central Otago.

Haslett says guest accommodation is now provided within the historic stone building and a warm straw bale-constructed building about 100 metres away from the original coach inn site. Outbuildings also include a one-bedroom manager’s flat and two-bedroom staff house with a loft.  

“Features of the main hotel are its gorgeous wooden floors and its fabulous stone fireplace which supplements a diesel-powered heating system throughout the very well-built hotel,” says Haslett.  

“Complementing the yesteryear stone wall and timber interior are furniture and chattels that reflect outstanding attention to detail, while the historic ruins in the front garden add to its bygone era setting.”

He says records show the buildings comprise 1055sq m of pre-1920 buildings and 140sq m of buildings registered after 1990.

“The hotel and property has been well maintained and offers the opportunity for a new owner to expand and make their own mark on it subject to local council consents.”

Haslett says the hotel has been the venue for many successful weddings and corporate event and benefits from a significant passing traffic flow negotiating Dansey’s Pass in huge numbers throughout the year.

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The lounge area looking towards the bar in Dansey’s Pass Hotel. 

“The corporate and special interest trade could be grown with targeted marketing and the next owner might consider running some power sites around the property to accommodate campervans, or building more cottages on the higher ground overlooking the hotel,” he says.

“Dansey’s Pass is on a beautiful scenic route which attracts classic car and motorcycle rallies, campervans and a variety of international and domestic travellers. The famous Otago Rail Bike Trail is not far away - as is the town of Naseby with its indoor curling rink and mountain biking which is just a short drive of 17 kilometres.  It’s only 34kms to Ranfurly’s shops and services, while Dunedin city with its major airport, Otago University, hospital and numerous retail outlets is a scenic 136 km journey.”

The need for hotel accommodation in the area was spurred in 1861 by the discovery of gold in the Upper Kyeburn by a prospector named Leggatt and a goldrush to Mount Buster took place in July 1863 about 12kms from the Kyeburn Diggings - which at one time had three hotels, three stores, butchery and a bakery.

One report in 1880 estimated there were 600 Chinese working the diggings served by a Chinese store which was not pulled down until 1920. A deep cutting on the terrace behind the hotel was worked by Chinese, as was an adjacent cutting on the road known as Chinaman’s Cutting.

“This is a magical property with a fascinating past and a business that could be run by a hands-on couple or by a manager,” Haslett says.

“It offers a new owner an interesting lifestyle, good return, and an historic trophy property that will continue to benefit the region for many more years to come.”

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Simon Haslett of Resort Brokers.