The land and buildings housing an historic 152-year-old country pub adjacent to one of the busiest stretches of the State Highway One motorway network have been placed on the market for sale.
The colourful Rangiriri Hotel midway between Auckland and Hamilton was established in 1866, and after being partially burnt down in 1905, was rebuilt to its current state. The wooden premises is now a registered ‘category two’ building with the Historic Places Trust.
Highly visible from the motorway just 200 metres away, the property at 8 Rangiriri Road traces its roots back to New Zealand’s colonial era when the hotel was a stopping point for travellers where coach horses were fed, watered and harnessed in and out of their teams. Horses were stabled at the rear of the property and in a neighbouring paddock.
Sitting on a 5427 square metre commercially-zoned site, the Rangiriri Hotel freehold land, buildings are being marketed for sale at auction on April 12 by Bayleys Hamilton.
Salesperson Josh Smith said the 951 square metre two-storey building was currently leased to the pub’s tavern-operating tenants on a lease through until November 2022 generating annual rental revenue of $119,137 plus GST.
As a typical turn-of-the-last-century rural New Zealand hotel, the Rangiriri Hotel contains five double-bedrooms, a café-style restaurant opening onto the rear split-level garden area, and two traditional Kiwi country style bar areas – one a ‘public’ bar, and the other area known as the house bar dating back to the early 1900s when women were not allowed to meet in the male-only bastion of the main bar.
Mr Smith said the building’s amenities had been partly refurbished and modernised over the past two decades – restoring parts of the premises to its original façade and character appearance towering over both the adjacent flat countryside and State Highway One just a few hundred metres away.
He said that like many small-town country hotels throughout New Zealand, the Rangiriri Hotel had evolved from serving a predominantly rural local clientele, into catering for a much broader and urban demographic.
“During the 1930s and ‘40s when automobile use became more prevalent and replaced the horse and carriage as a mode of transport, vehicles were somewhat slower than they are today, so the Rangiriri Hotel maintained its presence as a motorists’ stopping point between Auckland and Hamilton.
“In the 21st century we now have a high speed motorway network linking two of New Zealand’s biggest population centres, however travellers now want a coffee and muffin or a country pub lunch on their journey, so the pub is still busy serving a transient inter-city clientele in the same way it did a century ago.
“In addition, the Rangiriri Hotel has retained its focus as being the local hub for a catchment area stretching north up to Mercer and Te Kauwhata, and Ohinewai and Huntly to the south.
“All refurbishment work over the years has been tastefully done with full acknowledgement of the pub’s roots – and there is still plenty of scope for more work to be undertaken to add further value. The original woodwork, panelling and lay-out have been retained pretty much as designed and constructed.”
Mr Smith said the recent emergence of nearby Hampton Downs Motorsports Park as the North Island’s premier automotive care and motorcycle racetrack had also been a boon for trade at the Rangiriri Hotel.
“Hampton Downs holds regular club and marque meetings throughout the year, and for competitors heading south at the end of racing, the Rangiriri Hotel is a perfect first point of call for a bite to eat and a cold beer to reminisce over the day’s racing,” he said.
“It’s now quite common to see the hotel car park full of race cars and mechanical works teams on a Sunday afternoon.”
A commercial-grade kitchen at the Rangiri Hotel serves traditional ‘country pub grub’ such as Scotch, rump or sirloin steak, fish and chips, pork spare ribs, or lamb shanks.
“At the rear of the property away from the view of patrons is an expansive flat grassed area – where the original coach horses were allowed to graze - which could be developed into a camping amenity through the installation of motor home power cabling, or an ablution block to service tent campers,” Mr Smith said.
“This would work well for competitors, their support crews and spectators of Hamptons Downs events who often struggle to find commercial accommodation in the immediate proximity – often having to stay as far away as Hamilton or Pukekohe.”
Mr Smith said that as with many country pubs around provincial New Zealand, the Rangiriri Hotel had a legendary story intricately involving rugby. When Waikato won the Ranfurly Shield off Auckland on a Saturday afternoon at Eden Park in 1993, Waikato captain John Mitchell in his victory speech at the ground, told travelling fans the team would “see you at the Rangiriri."
Later that night, when the Waikato team bus had left Eden Park following post-match speeches, there were 22 travelling ‘Mooloo’ supporter buses and hundreds of cars parked outside the Rangiriri Hotel, and the Waikato team with the ‘log of wood’ in tow took half an hour to get into the bar through the thronging crowd of well-wishers.