Grand old Te Aroha lady dates to 1881

4:54 PM Friday August 25, 2017 Colin Taylor

Bayleys is selling the Grand Tavern, 81-83 Whittaker St, Te Aroha.

The land and buildings housing one of Waikato’s grandest country pubs — featuring a 136-year-old Category 1 listed venue — are now for sale.

Bayleys is selling the Grand Tavern, 81-83 Whittaker St, Te Aroha, through a tender process closing September 14. It features in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine.

Still doing brisk trade, thanks to the nearby Hauraki Rail Trail, the hotel traces its roots back to the booming late 1800s.

Records show it was built to provide accommodation for miners in 1881 shortly after gold was discovered in nearby Waiorongomai Valley.

When the gold ran out four years later the property was enlarged to take advantage of geothermal hot springs in nearby Te Aroha Domain — a major tourist magnet of the day.

These springs drew thousands of tourists and in 1902 the two-storey wooden pub was renamed the Grand Hotel.

Following the 1971 demolition of the former Hot Springs Hotel, the Grand was the only survivor from Te Aroha’s gold mining and thermal spa eras.

Heritage New Zealand rates it a significant as part of a larger historic and archaeological landscape.

“Te Aroha was the first geothermal resort in New Zealand to benefit from large-scale tourism for leisure and health, only being overtaken by the more famous spa at Rotorua at the turn of the century,” says Heritage NZ.

“The hotel . . . makes a significant aesthetic contribution through its long balcony and verandah. The Tavern is of historical and architectural significance for demonstrating changes in the use of hotels during the late nineteenth century, from work-related lodgings to genteel places of retreat. It is a notable example of Victorian hotel design, with characteristics typical of the building-type such as a sweeping verandah, hipped roof and street corner location.”

Bayleys Hamilton salesperson, Josh Smith, notes that the Grand retains the veranda and ornate wooden fretwork so popular more than a century ago, while its food and beverage operations remain popular with town’s locals.

The history-conscious current owners have spent $100,000 on restoration and refurbishment.

“While many classic Kiwi country pubs have suffered at the hands of time and are now tired reflections of their past glories, the Grand remains a pillar of Te Aroha’s central business district,” Smith says.

The 980sq m building sits on a freehold corner site of about 1172sq m. It generates net annual rental of $69,000 and the tavern’s operator is on a lease expiring in April, with a further 10-year right of renewal.

“The opening of the Hauraki Rail Trail in 2012 has seen dozens of associated businesses in the region prosper — particularly those in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors,” Smith says.

“Te Aroha is directly on the Matamata-to-Paeroa axis of the trail, and is benefiting from cyclists coming in to use the mineral pools.

“The Grand Tavern has piggy-backed off that rise in visitor numbers.

“In addition, the Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust is confident that the route will be extended even further — with the Te Aroha-to-Matamata leg expected to be operational within two years.

“The Grand Tavern land and buildings represent an opportunity for either an investor to buy the premises and maintain the current tenancy, or for a hospitality-focused owner-occupier to take on the premises lock-stock-and barrel and expand the range and standard of offerings.”