One of New Zealand’s most remote cafés – which also doubles up as the town’s part-time grocery store and postal service – has been placed on the market for sale.
Hard Drive Café is located in the small settlement of Matawai on State Highway Two - some 71 kilometres north-west of Gisborne and 70 kilometres south-east of Opotiki. State Highway Two is the main route linking the two towns.
Matawai rivals the more famous Taranaki settlement of Whangamomona for the title of New Zealand’s most remote en-route destination. Whangamomona is 65 kilometres north-east of Stratford and 55kilometres south-west of Ohura. It has a pub, while Matawai no longer does.
The Hard Drive Café is housed within a 210 square metre building alongside what used to be the town’s petrol station. Now, the 2942 square metres of freehold land, buildings and Hard Drive Café business are being marketed for sale for $500,000 through Bayleys Gisborne.
Salesperson Colin McNab said Hard Drive Café was a stereotypical rural New Zealand foodservice operation – serving home-made baked goods, barista-made coffee, a selection of fruit and carbonated beverages from refrigerated units, and freezers full of individually-packed ice creams.
Hard Drive’s pies, cakes, and pastries commercially baked in a kitchen housed in an adjacent commercial premises which was once the town’s service station.
Mr McNab said the assets within the Hard Drive portfolio also included the land sustaining two fully-automated petrol pumps on the former service station forecourt. He said this portion of the property was leased out to Allied Fuel, returning $10,000 plus GST per annum on a lease currently running through to 2023 with two further five-year rights of renewal.
“The pumps sit in front of a large commercial structure which has the potential to re-open as an adjunct service station to the fuel pumps – with the ability to sell rudimentary automotive supplies such as oil, brake fluids, batteries, and spare tyres for example,” Mr McNab said.
“For a visionary entrepreneur seeking a ‘lifestyle’ business opportunity, the substantial 200 square metre commercial building and land to the rear of the service station forecourt has considerable development prospects. With functional plumbing and foodservice infrastructure already existing, it could quite easily be converted into a budget backpackers lodge.
“Alternatively, the same space would effortlessly support a mechanics workshop as break-down services are few and far between along this stretch of the highway network.”
Matawai’s pub closed some two years ago. Mr McNab said that with food already being a pillar of sales revenues at Hard Drive, and a limited selection of household supplies and groceries being sold from the shop within the café’s floor space, there was the opportunity for any new owner to pick up both on-premise and off-premise liquor sales licenses.
“The ‘bones’ are already in place for a new bar to emerge in Matawai. It doesn’t have to be a flashy big-city gastro-pub type operation serving craft beers and pork-belly on bok choy. That’s not heartland New Zealand,” he said.
“But with a bit of number-eight wiring ingenuity and creativity, the old service station back office and workshop space could easily be a very cool country pub. The target-market audience is already there, and is captive – anyone travelling between Opotiki and Gisborne, as there’s virtually nowhere else to stop for a beer and a bite to eat for 71 kilometres in either direction.”
Mr McNab said Matawai’s profile had lifted in recent years off the back of becoming the starting/finishing point for the Motu Trails/Rere Falls cycle trail linking it to Gisborne.
The ride – which can take up to three days – is promoted as being one of New Zealand’s most remote sections of the national cycle trail. The national cycle trail website says riders are “advised to carry sufficient water and food for the duration of the ride - limited mobile phone coverage, toilets and drinking water available.”
“Being either the starting or finishing point for this 103 kilomete ride there is a case for establishing a backpacker style lodge with associated hospitality operations for riders wanting to come in the night before starting their journey, or for chilling out at the conclusion of their journey before driving up to Opotiki.,” Mr McNab said.
“Again, because of its remote location, this is a captive market for Matawai, and the business is currently leaking outside of the township.”
A two-bedroom owner/manager/staff quarters at the rear of the highway-facing retail units is also included in the Hard Drive property portfolio, along with an additional 488 square metre section across the road and currently used for parking but with scope for building development.