Garden cafe on Hauraki cycle trail for sale

5:00 AM Saturday February 21, 2015 Colin Taylor

The Garden Depot Café and property is for sale at 1685 Pareoa-Tahuna Rd in Tirohia

The owners of a burgeoning hospitality business and home situated in the middle of one of New Zealand’s most popular cycle tracks have placed it on the market for sale to cash up their investment in a booming tourism market.

The Depot Garden Café, at 1685 Pareoa-Tahuna Road in Tirohia, borders the last section of the Hauraki Rail Trail on the Coromandel. The property also includes the original Turua School house that has been converted into a three-bedroom homestead and a former railway depot.

The opening of the trail in early 2012 saw visitors numbers to the area grow dramatically. Soon afterwards the property’s elderly owners capitalised on the new tourist attraction by setting up a hobby business, serving Devonshire teas to hungry cyclists passing through.

In in first year, the business turned over $27,000 just from customers passing by and through word-of-mouth. Since then, the Depot Garden Cafe has continued to grow beyond the owners’ expectations, serving customers tea and scones from 10 am to 4 pm seven days a week.

As a result, the owners have decided to sell their property and business, placing it in on the market for sale as a going concern with Bayleys Hamilton, through an auction process on March 4.

The property for sale comprises a three-bedroom home built on 9600 sq m of freehold land incorporating the cafe, and a second building providing bathroom facilities and storage, Formerly a railway depot that had been shut down, the current owners bought it in the 1980s and ran a business on the site growing topiary hedging plants. They shut this business down before starting the Garden depot cafe in 2013.

Josh Smith with Bayleys Hamilton, who is marketing the property, says Depot Garden Cafe represents huge potential for further expansion.

“While it started as a hobby for the elderly owners, with no experience in running a café, it has grown exponentially in the past two years,” he says.

“The property is the last stop on the Hauraki Rail Trail – 14 km from Te Aroha – making it the last opportunity for weary cyclists to refresh while on the journey. It’s also on the main highway linking Waikato, Paeroa and the Coromandel Peninsula, which receives a high volume of passing traffic.

“There is huge untapped potential here,” Smith says.  “Among the opportunities for a new owner to consider are expanding the current cafe to offer a larger selection of food and drinks, licensing the business and adding a restaurant and accommodation, or alternatively creating a commercial function venue catering to weddings, family gathering and other special occasions.

True Commercial - 1685 Pareoa-Tahuna Rd, Depot Garden Cafe - guests at garden table.jpg

Guests at outdoor tables in the Garden Depot Cafe in Tirohia near Thames. 

Smith says the home included in the sale is the original Turua School house that was relocated to the site and has been preserved to a high standard.

“The character of the 150 sq m house has been retained and features native timber floors and a high stud ceiling. In addition to three bedrooms, it has a commercial kitchen for preparing the tea and scones leading to a seating area under a gazebo where customers can enjoy the grounds while having refreshments.

“The large topiary hedge garden is a focal point for the property, particularly for families. The hard work has been done – it only needs an annual trim to retain its current form,” Smith says.

Also on-site is the original 150 sq m railway depot building, which has a kitchen, bathroom, workshop and storage rooms along with twin and single garages. The large section has enough room for coaches to park and turn, and there is car parking for up to 20 vehicles.

“All the infrastructure is already in place for the business to grow with a proven market literally right outside the gate,” says Smith. “The railway building could also be expanded into a bigger cafe or accommodation facility to supplement the existing business,”

“This property would be ideally suited to a couple or family wanting to take over an established business with huge growth potential, while enjoying the flexible lifestyle of a combined home and business in a quiet, rural location.”

Smith quoted a recent report by the Government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment which noted the huge economic benefits cycle trails such as the Hauraki Rail Trail had delivered to provincial New Zealand.

It highlighted that respondents visiting the cycle trail regions “only or mainly because of the cycle trails” spent an average of between $131 and $176 per person per day – with 20 per cent of participating businesses involved with the routes indicating they had grown since the opening of thecycle trail in their region.

“More than a third of business survey participants indicated they had seen an increase in the number of customers served by their businesses, with flowon effects in business income and turnover and business expenditure, but also in profit.

“Corresponding with estimates of economic contribution made as a result of the Trail User survey, positive impact was most often seen by businesses around the Hauraki Rail Trail.”