Rangiriri pub has served patrons for 150 years

4:34 PM Friday March 16, 2018 True Commercial

Waikato’s historic Rangiriri Hotel is to go to auction on April 12. Photo / Supplied

The land and buildings housing an historic Waikato 152-year-old country pub adjacent to one of the busiest stretches of State Highway 1 is for sale.

The colourful Rangiriri Hotel — midway between Auckland and Hamilton — was established in 1866 and, after being partially burnt down in 1905, was rebuilt to its current state.

The wooden premises is now a registered Historic Places Trust ‘Category Two’ building.

Highly visible from the SH1 motorway just 200m away, the property at 8 Rangiriri Rd traces its roots back to New Zealand’s colonial era.

It was a stopping point for travellers where coach horses were fed, watered and harnessed in and out of their teams. Horses were stabled at the rear of the property and in a neighbouring paddock.

Sitting on a 5427sq m commercially-zoned site, the Rangiriri Hotel’s freehold land and buildings are being marketed for sale at auction on April 12 by Josh Smith of Bayleys Hamilton and feature in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine.

Smith says the 951sq m two-storey building is leased to the pub’s tavern-operating tenants on a lease through until November 2022, generating annual rent of $119,137.

As a typical rural hotel, the Rangiriri has five double-bedrooms, a cafe-styled restaurant opening onto the rear split-level garden area, and two traditional Kiwi country-styled bar areas.

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The public bar and the house bar, date back to the early 1900s. Photo / Supplied

One of these is the public bar, and the other is a house bar, dating back to the early 1900s when it catered to women who were not allowed to meet in the male-only bastion of the main bar.

Smith says the building’s amenities have been partly refurbished and modernised over the past two decades; restoring parts of the premises to its original facade and character appearance - towering over the adjacent flat countryside and SH1 just a few hundred metres away.

“All refurbishment work over the years has been tastefully done with full acknowledgement of the pub’s roots — and there is still plenty of scope for more work to be undertaken to add further value. The original woodwork, panelling and lay-out have been retained pretty much as designed and constructed.”

He says that like many small-town country hotels throughout New Zealand, the Rangiriri Hotel has evolved from serving a predominantly rural local clientele, into catering for a much broader and urban demographic.

“During the 1930s and ‘40s when automobile use became more prevalent, replacing the horse and carriage, vehicles were somewhat slower than they are today, so the hotel maintained its presence as a staging point for motorists.

“We now have a high-speed motorway network linking two of New Zealand’s biggest population centres, however travellers still want a coffee and muffin or a country pub lunch on their journeys, so the pub is still busy serving transient inter-city customers.

“It has also retained its focus on a local catchment stretching north up to Mercer and Te Kauwhata, and Ohinewai and Huntly to the south.”

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The Rangiriri Hotel fronts State Highway 1 and the nearby Waikato River. Photo / Supplied

Smith says the recent emergence of nearby Hampton Downs Motorsports Park as the North Island’s premier automotive and motorcycle racetrack has also been a boon for trade at the Rangiriri Hotel.

“Hampton Downs holds regular club and marque meetings throughout the year, and for competitors heading south at the end of racing, the Rangiriri Hotel is a perfect first point of call for a bite to eat and a cold beer to reminisce over the day’s racing,” he says.

“It’s now quite common to see the hotel car park full of race cars and mechanical works teams on a Sunday afternoon.”

A commercial-grade kitchen at the Rangiri Hotel serves traditional ‘country pub grub’ such as scotch, rump or sirloin steak, fish and chips, pork spare ribs, and lamb shanks.

“At the rear of the property away from the view of patrons is an expansive flat grassed area where the original coach horses were allowed to graze. “This could be developed into a camping amenity through the installation of motor home power cabling, or an ablution block to service tent campers,” Smith says.

“This would work well for competitors, the support crews and spectators of Hampton Downs events who often struggle to find commercial accommodation in the immediate area – often having to stay as far away as Hamilton or Pukekohe.”

Smith says that as with many country pubs around provincial New Zealand, the Rangiriri Hotel has a legendary story intricately involving rugby.

When Waikato won the Ranfurly Shield off Auckland on a Saturday afternoon at Eden Park in 1993, Waikato captain John Mitchell in his victory speech at the ground, told travelling fans the team would “see you at the Rangiriri”.

Later that night, when the Waikato team bus had left Eden Park following post-match speeches, there were 22 travelling ‘Mooloo’ supporter buses and hundreds of cars parked outside the Rangiriri Hotel, and the Waikato team with the ‘Log of Wood’ in tow took half an hour to get into the bar through the thronging crowd of well-wishers.