A former state prison turned bed and breakfast in a remote rural town in the Central North Island has been placed on the market in a receivership sale.
The Ohura State Prison Bed and Breakfast is at the heart of the Ohura community situated just off the Forgotten World Highway, 45 minutes east of Taumarunui.
The property was first used as a coal miner’s hostel for men working in the thriving nearby Tatu Coal Mine. It was also used by post office and bank staff, rail linesmen and casual travellers.
In 1971 the mine was closed for economic reasons and stiff competition from alternative energy sources such as natural gas and oil. A government study suggests there could still be as much as 33 million tonnes of recoverable coal in the Ohura-Tangarakau area.
Ohura Prison was opened in 1972 as a minimum security facility with capacity for 97 inmates. When the prison was decommissioned in November 2005, the current owners transformed the property into a mixture of bed and breakfast and affordable accommodation options.
Nestled in the rugged King Country hills close to tramping and bike trails, and kayaking, fishing and hunting hotspots, the prison has become a tourist attraction and is listed on national and international travel websites.
It is one of few accommodation providers located along the Forgotten World Highway and guests have the option of staying in a reformed cell room or the former correctional staff quarters.
The premise is licensed to operate as accommodation, a restaurant, café and take away facility. It is often utilised by groups on weekends for $90-$100 per head including dinner, bed and breakfast.
The property is on the market for sale by tender through Bayleys Taranaki, with offers closing on November 27.
Bayleys Taranaki sales manager Mark Monckton said Ohura State Prison Bed and Breakfast presents a rare opportunity for someone to purchase a piece of King Country history.
“The foundations are there to capitalise on tourism opportunities as part of the Forgotten World Adventure Trail, or to take the property in a new direction. You
would be hard pressed to find better value for money than here in Ohura,” Mr Monckton says.
Ohura is a peaceful settlement, removed from the fast paced city life, but still within reasonable driving distance to larger service towns such as Taumarunui and Stratford in Taranaki, Mr Monckton says.
A cosmopolitan club in the centre of town serves as the community social hub and the Ohura rugby field doubles as a grazing paddock in the off season.
“Drive an hour and a half east and you reach Tongariro National Park and ski resort or head west and you’ll arrive at Taranaki’s pristine surf beaches,” Mr Monckton says.
Ohura State Prison Bed and Breakfast is zoned urban settlement and occupies nine titles with a total land area of 2.52 hectares.
The property consists of a large main building including separate kitchen and dining areas, bedrooms and a living area. There is also a detached manager’s accommodation unit and a number of storage sheds.