Historic homestead rides wave of success on cycle trail

5:00 AM Saturday October 17, 2015 Colin Taylor

The historic Burnside stately homestead at 527 Burnside Rd, Elderslie on the doorstep of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, North Otago.

Burnside, a stately nineteenth century North Otago homestead hosting a commercial hospitality and accommodation business on the doorstop of a world famous cycle trail, is to go under the auctioneer’s hammer.

The Category I registered historic home is located close to Enfield at 527 Burnside Rd, Elderslie, which is inland from Oamaru and 16 kms from State Highway One via Weston.

The house was built near Oamaru around 1900 by John Forrester Reid - the eldest son of well-known North Otago pastoralist and meat industry pioneer John Reid.

“The homestead occupies the site which the Reids settled in 1864,” says Sue Morton of Bayleys Timaru who is marketing the property for auction on December 11.

Morton says the elaborate nine-bedroom late-Victorian bay villa has undergone extensive restoration by its current owners Bruce and Alison Albiston, who bought the property in 1974, to return it to its former glory.

The property has offered distinguished bed & breakfast accommodation and fine dining to private guests and groups since 1995,” she says. "In that time it has attracted thousands of guests, including distinguished heads and business leaders like former prime minister Helen Clark, now the United Nations Development Programme administrator; merchant banker Sir Michael Fay’ and former UK English Heritage Commissioner Sir Neil Cossons.

Morton says the Albistons have decidedit’s time for someone else to realise their own vision for the homestead and have consequently placed it on the market..

“From a business view, a major benefit is Burnside’s location on the doorstep of the popular Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail,” she says.

Burnside’s history, location and business opportunities make it an attractive offering to potential buyers.

“It is a magnificent homestead in a stunning, secluded setting, which gives guests the chance to travel back in time and have glimpse at nineteenth century life. Its location also means it is easily accessible to the towns of Oamaru on State Highway 1; Omarama to Duntroon on State Highway 83; and allmain South Island airports.”

The entrance to the 625 sq m main house is via an oak tree lined driveway surrounded by extensive park-like grounds. The front door opens to a short entrance hall leading to homestead’s octagonal great hall - an elaborate wood panelled room with 18 clerestory windows and manydecorative features. Doors lead from the great hall to other parts of the house.

The main household has four guest suites with ensuites and one double bedroom with separate bathroom all of which feature original furnishings and historic amenities like canopy beds, claw foot bathtubs, a maid’s closet lavatory and servants’ quarters.

527 Burnside Rd, Elderslie, North Otago - great hall in Burnside homestead.jpg

Interior view of Burnside depicting the grand hall.

Another wing houses the three bedroom, self-contained servants’ quarters. Upstairs is an open plan one bedroom owners’ apartment with full facilities. The main kitchen complex has a butler’s servery, cook’s kitchen and maid’s scullery, which are able to provide for up to 30 guests.

In the orchard, stands the 105 sq m Coach House - a two bedroom rebuilt self-contained cottage that can accommodate six people, with full kitchen, living room, insulation and space heating.

“Guests at Burnside can enjoy roaring open fires in the great hall, dining at the 16 seat black oak dining table, play snooker or billiards, and eat breakfast in the sunny conservatory or on the sweeping veranda that envelops the house,” Morton says.

The house is sited on 5.18 hectares of manicured grounds featuring beautiful flower gardens, a large vegetable garden, heritage fruit trees and shrubs which are harvested to supply the kitchen. These include quince, pear, plum and peach varieties; feijoas, currants, raspberries and gooseberries. 

Additional out buildings include a three room dairy unit, storage sheds, three bay garages, workshop, potting shed and hen house.

“The original orchard and vegetable garden - along with tame sheep and poultry within the grounds - add to the guests’ authentic experience of a past lifestyle,” Morton says.

Suite rates range from $245 to $325 per night with self catering units charged at $175 to $225 per night. Discounted rates are offered to groups.

Morton says bookings have increased 35 per cent since 2013, with more than 300guests already booked for 2016. “In addition to accommodation, the property has also been used as a function centre, hosting family gatherings, music events, managed tours and corporate functions due to its accessible and peaceful setting,” she says.

“The opening of the cycle trail in 2013 saw visitor numbers through the area grow dramatically with a consequent increase in demand for service businesses including accommodation.”

More than 10,000 walkers and cyclists each year pass on the spectacular four to six day track from Mt Cook to Oamaru.

“Cyclists go past the gate of Burnside so the homestead is ideally placed to cater to guests seeking accommodation for their final night on the route. The booming cycle trail market and represents huge potential for further development,” says Morton.

“A new owner could grow the venue hire aspect of the business by using the kitchen which has commercial capacity and obtaining a liquor licence.  A recently installed Belling induction cooking range complements a commercial dishwasher and catering fridge/freezer. This would create an ideal venue for weddings, hosting overnight corporate events or as independent boutique restaurant.

“Existing partnerships with Christchurch, Nelson and Queenstown tourism operators running group tours could also further enhance the business,” Morton says.