Waterfront tavern runs on East Coast values

7:47 PM Friday December 1, 2017 True Commercial

Te Puka Tavern and adjoining terraced apartments are on freehold land overlooking Tokomaru Bay. Photo / Supplied

A waterfront pub located on the North Island’s scenic East Coast, has been placed on the market for sale.

The Te Puka Tavern is in the township of Tokomaru Bay — a seaside settlement on State Highway 35, about 90km north of Gisborne.

Te Puka Tavern was built in late 1988, replacing an historic public house that had been operating from the coastal site since 1873.

Holiday activity guide Lonely Planet named Te Puka Tavern among its Top 10 New Zealand country pubs in 2015 — along with other rural hospitality venues like the Cardrona Hotel, between Wanaka and Queenstown; the Whangamomona Hotel, in Taranaki; and the Gladstone Inn, in the Wairarapa.

Now the freehold land, buildings and entire tavern business are being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Gisborne, with tenders closing on January 23. The property features in Bayleys’ latest Total Propertyportfolio magazine.

Salesperson Greg Robertson says the 600sq m tavern and terraced apartments are situated on 5123sq m of freehold land immediately overlooking Tokomaru Bay.

Commercial accommodation adjacent to the pub features four two-storey 60sq m studio apartments built in 2011. The apartments with a nightly rack rate of $160 have an average annual occupancy rate of 82 per cent. In addition, there are four powered parking spaces to accommodate motorised homes and caravans at $15 a night.

True Commercial - Te Puka Tavern%2c Tokomaru Bay - interior .jpg

The main bar area has an A-frame open wooden beam ceiling pool tables, restaurant space, and covered decks overlooking the sea. Photo / Supplied

Tokomaru township has a resident population of 500, which swells to six times that amount over the Christmas and New Year holiday. Thousands more camp in the remote bays and settlements north and south of the community.

“The Te Puka Tavern offers a turn-key opportunity for any new business owner looking for a truly regional lifestyle,” says Robertson.

“As any good country hotel should be, Te Puka is at the heart of the community it serves. It’s the weigh-in point for the various pig and deer hunts, as well as the first port of call by local fishing club members, who use the boat ramps immediately across the road.

“It’s a live music venue, a wedding venue and a birthday venue . . . The conference room hosts many farming-related annual general meetings and gatherings for a multitude of community groups and associations.

“The main tavern building is configured into three distinct spaces to cater for a broad spectrum of customer demographics. These range from the main bar area, with its A-frame open wooden beam ceiling and a couple of pool tables, the restaurant space, and the covered decks overlooking the sea. Behind the tavern is a two-storied three-bedroom owner/managers residence.”

True Commercial - Te Puka Tavern and adjoining apartments%2c SH35 .jpg

The tavern is in the township of Tokomaru Bay — a seaside settlement on State Highway 35. Photo / Supplied

“The Te Puka Tavern’s operational philosophies mirror those of the wider East Coast population. There are no gaming machines within the venue, and the business is endeavouring to become ‘plastic free’ through the use of re-usable products and services, instigating recycling initiatives, and seeking paper and cardboard alternatives to plastic where possible.”

Trading records for the business show the strategy is paying off — with turnover for the 2016/2017 financial year up 37.8 per cent on the previous 2015/2016 trading period.

The Te Puka Tavern’s food operations are serviced by a gas-powered commercial-grade stainless steel kitchen set-up — encompassing a walk-in freezer/chiller unit with shelving, six-burner hot plate section, salamander grill, and deep fryer, along with dishwashing and rinsing units.

“Having both a food and beverage aspect and accommodation revenue streams ensures the Te Puka Tavern operates as a vertically-integrated and symbiotic business.

“The bar and use of the venue for events and functions automatically feed guest traffic through the apartments, while virtually all guests booking into the apartments as their primary reason for visiting Tokomaru Bay head next door for a bite to eat and a quiet beer or wine with a chance to meet one of the many friendly locals.”

Tokomaru Bay tracks its routes back to the 1840s when the location was founded as a whaling station. In the later part of the century, Tokomaru Bay became a busy hub for sheep and beef exports from the region — sustaining a freezing works and a commercial wharf to service international shipping.

While the harbour ceased operations in 1963, the old wharf and freezing works remnants near the tavern are ‘must see’ attractions on the East Coast highway route and a major community funding program is underway to upgrade and reinstate the wharf.

Robertson says country-pub-style licensed hospitality operations and function venues along the State Highway 35 coastline are “few and far between” and Te Puka Tavern is perfectly positioned for increasing tourist numbers.

“Overseas vendors invested time and effort to bring the complex to its current high standard and have now made the decision to remain offshore and pass the opportunity on to a new owner.”