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Buyers study up on next chapter for historic former convent school

Tags: Commercial

A wedding venue, conference hub, health and wellbeing centre or an education or aged care facility are among future options mooted for an historic former convent school which has gone up for sale near Oamaru.


Best known among international and domestic visitors in recent years as the Teschemakers Resort, the property features upmarket accommodation and spacious common areas along with substantial kitchen and dining spaces.

Located near State Highway 1, some 13 kilometres south of Oamaru, the more than 10-hectare property at 280 Teschemakers Road contains a variety of former school buildings, a cottage and a heritage-listed chapel, which helped shape the history of north Otago.

The site was originally part of the Taipo Estate bought in 1860 by William Teschemaker. In 1911, the then owners bequeathed part of the land to the Catholic church to establish a boarding school which would educate generations of girls. Teschemakers College closed in the late 1970s but for more than two decades, the Church retained the property as a spiritual retreat and conference centre.

In 2000, it was sold to a Japanese businessman, Dr Hirotomo Ochi, who sought to establish an international post-graduate college with accommodation. The project was set back by a fire in 2003 which destroyed the original homestead and convent. These were rebuilt as residential accommodation, with meeting rooms and a full commercial kitchen, but the project was abandoned when Dr Ochi died in 2005, before the rebuild was completed.

The next owners established a wedding and conference venue and in 2017 the current owner bought the property and incorporated Teschemakers Resort into his international travel operation. The advent of COVID-19 in 2020 caused the expanding business to switch its focus to domestic travellers, conferences and weddings.

The freehold land and buildings at 280 Teschemakers Road, Oamaru, are now being marketed for sale by expressions of interest closing on Friday 18 February 2022, through Bayleys Metro Dunedin.

Salespeople Muir Gold and Robin Hyndman said the offering included buildings with a total floor area of some 4,500 square metres on more than 10.7 hectares of land. The site is zoned Rural General by Waitaki District Council.

“This sprawling historic property has a unique atmosphere and charm, with character buildings, mature landscaped gardens and a heritage chapel,” said Gold.

“The impressive two-storey main building is immaculately presented and offers a welcoming presence amid the gardens. The chapel is an exceptional architectural delight which provides an imposing keystone to the whole complex.”

Other buildings include former classrooms, a three-storey former dormitory, a two-bedroom cottage, other smaller buildings plus a swimming pool.

“The property is today home to fully redeveloped luxury accommodation and conference facilities, with meeting rooms and a full commercial kitchen. The current resort business operates primarily from the rebuilt main building.

“Existing consents allow for function activities with up to 160 guests, visitor accommodation for up to 130, dining facilities for up to 130 plus bar facilities./p>

“Accommodation currently includes 18 units with ensuites, comprising 12 studios and six two-bedroom units,” said Gold.

Hyndman said a number of buildings offered themselves for redevelopment, including the three-storey ex-dormitory, the classroom block and swimming pool.

“In response to past growth, the current owner secured building consent to expand the resort by redeveloping the former dormitory and provide additional accommodation in the main building. Full working drawing plans are available for the proposed dormitory conversion into 24 ensuited studio units.

“In addition, the substantial classroom buildings could be redeveloped for the likes of seminar rooms or studios.”

Rental income is available to a new owner, with the cottage currently leased for $350 per week and a room in the main building leased for $300 per week.

Hyndman said the chapel, which has a Category B heritage listing in the Waitaki District Plan, was a unique character focal point – and a particularly attractive asset for future weddings or religious or spiritual activities.

“The chapel’s late-Gothic design incorporates flying buttresses, a rose window and apsidal sanctuary. It was built in local Oamaru stone, with five of the stained-glass windows imported from Birmingham, England. The altar, made of Carrara marble with an alabaster bas-relief of the last supper, was imported from Italy,” said Hyndman.

Many of the ornate chapel fixtures remain the property of the Catholic Dominican Order and remain in place under the heritage designation.

Hyndman said the site’s configuration meant accommodation was likely to remain a central part of future uses.

“In the COVID environment, the existing accommodation business has continued to attract primarily domestic visitors. Its popularity is clear from its average rating of 9.1 out of 10 on booking.com, with many visitors attracted by the character buildings, charming grounds and rural setting.”

Click here for more information on the listing.

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