Pub part of drinking folklore

5:00 AM Saturday September 3, 2016 Pub part of drinking folklore

The Kaponga Hotel has stood on its Egmont Street site for 100 years

The Kaponga Hotel is on the market for sale — a pub which entered south Taranaki’s drinking folklaw following “the Monica incident” of 1982.

The 100-year-old pub is being sold by Bayleys Taranaki, through a tender process closing on September 21.

Recently refurbished, the freehold going concern (building and business) sits on a 2023 sq m site, offering extensive facilities and revenue through multiple streams, said Bayleys Taranaki sales agent Iain Taylor.

“These include standard food and beverage sales, accommodation, regular entertainment, catering for functions and gaming machine operations”.

Taylor said the 501 sq m hotel, located in the middle of Kaponga township, serves a steady stream of tourists year-round.

Constant patronage is mainly due to a handy location — just off St H 3 — plus close proximity to numerous scenic attractions.

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Kaponga is known for both rich dairy pastures and the even richer oil and gas reserves far beneath them . . ..

It is nestled at the base of Mt Taranaki, backdrop for the Tom Cruise blockbuster the Last Samurai.

And it’s a southern gateway to Egmont National Park, one of New Zealand’s most accessible wilderness areas.

“Most people heading to Dawson Falls — a stunning 18-metre mountain waterfall — pass through Kaponga,” Taylor pointed out.

As the only commercial accommodation provider in the town, the Kaponga Hotel has five suites with two bathrooms and a communal guest lounge.

Nightly rack rates range from $70 to $110 per room.

The hotel comes with owners’ accommodation, a modern 157 sq m three-bedroom home with internal garage and access to the hotel. It could be used as guest accommodation for a rate of $250 a night.

Combined, the present potential yield for the accommodation alone was $4,830 per week, Mr Taylor said.

On the ground floor, the hotel has a restaurant and bar that opens out to a large outdoor area.

The venue also contains a conference room with seating for up to 15 people, six gaming machines, and large-screen televisions and TAB facilities for big sporting occasions and Saturday afternoon horse racing.

The property was recently refurbished by the vendor, with a commercial-grade kitchen and restaurant installed to elevate the destination’s appeal for country-pub style dining.

Amenities in the kitchen include two ovens, a deep fryer unit, grill, and hotplate, served by a walk-in chiller unit.

“Local patronage comes from the surrounding dairy farms. The township of Kaponga services a wide rural catchment and contains a variety of retailers and a community library,” said Taylor.

“Potential buyers have commented on the opportunity to capitalise on the area’s growing reputation as a tourist destination.

“With tourism now New Zealand’s primary industry, guests are staying longer and more frequently. The Kaponga Hotel is within 15 minutes’ drive of three golf courses, a child-friendly swimming and surfing beach, and near lakes Rotokare and Rotorangi — favoured destinations for water-skiers.”

He added that Kaponga was a stopover for campervan drivers heading into, or coming from, the Forgotten Highway.

This back blocks route, linking Stratford and Taumarunui as the crow flies, is popular with bikers, four-wheel drive enthusiasts and so-called “rail carts”, the quirky machines which ply the route’s now closed rail link.

“With some imaginative marketing there is the opportunity to take advantage of all this — such as through installation of power cabling in the hotel car park so that vans can stop overnight and make the most of the bar and restaurant amenities.”

Taylor reported interest in the business from a wide cross-section of experienced hospitality operators plus those from other vocations seeking a lifestyle opportunity.

“We have had inquiries from everyone, out-of-town buyers looking for a change in lifestyle, to local residents considering the benefits of our growing tourism sector.”

The “Monica incident” of 1982 went down in infamy at the Kaponga Hotel.

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It was the year of the town’s centenary, and the year the pub was brought to a standstill by a thirsty cow.

When locals Tony Hardegger and Gus Gulliver burst through the hotel’s doors with Tony’s prize-winning jersey cow “Monica”, barmaid Edith was unimpressed.

No sooner had the two blokes ordered three pints — one for each of them and one for Monica — than Edith laid down the law, promptly denying Monica service.

No, it wasn’t merely discrimination on the basis that Monica was a cow, nor due to the fact that she was underage, as Tony and Gus laughingly claimed.

Edith was more worried about the state the unpredictable bovine would leave the carpet in . . .

As the lads finished their pints and prepared to leave, local farmer Tom Kelley called Monica over to him and squirted milk straight from her udder into his whisky, leaving fellow patrons doubled-up in fits of laughter and disbelief.

This variation on the old “two men walked into a bar” story still gets recounted at Kaponga Hotel.

And to this day, otherwise manly-looking farmers, contractors and oil drilling crews feel comfortable ordering scotch-and-milk there.