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Ahoy - Wellington Tugboat and Hospitality Business for Sale

Ahoy, tugboat and hospo’ business for sale

The tugboat which is permanently moored in Wellington’s Freyberg Lagoon and the operational café business associated with it, have been placed on the market for sale.

The well-known attraction adjacent to the Freyberg Pool and Fitness Centre at the southern end of Oriental Bay is being sold as a going-concern with tenders closing with Bayleys Wellington on 2 August.

Built in Scotland, the tugboat went into service in 1958 as the Auckland Harbour Board tug, Aucklander. After being retired from active harbour service in 1986, it was bought by Wellington businessman Clem Griffiths and came south to become the capital's first floating restaurant.

The boat was renamed Tapuhi II, and from the early-1990s traded first as the Tugboat on the Bay floating restaurant, and later, Skippers Seafood Restaurant.

The owners of Oriental Bay’s much-loved Parade Café, Aldwyn and Janet Cockburn, purchased the tugboat in 2010 when the buildings housing the Parade Café were demolished to make way for an apartment complex.

The Cockburns subsequently leased the tugboat café business to their longstanding Parade Café general manager, Diane Schollar who renamed the business Boat Café.

Mark Sherlock of Bayleys says the boat itself and the business will be sold as one and he expects strong interest from owner-operators looking for a unique hospitality opportunity.

“The boat has a full commercial kitchen, more than 700sqm of dining and event/function spaces over multiple levels and across several decks, and the business has the potential to really take off under enthusiastic and innovative management,” he says.

“With the Oriental Parade walkway such a popular path, the tugboat’s café business really hums as walkers, cyclists, family groups and tourists drop in for a coffee or a bite to eat and for the chance to see the harbour from a different perspective.

“The day-time trade is proven, however there is definitely potential to crank up the events and evening trade aspect of the business to add income.”

Sherlock says the boat’s layout would lend itself to mini-conference or team training events. He believes a fresh set of eyes and some new ideas could see business returns going from good to great.

The café itself operates from the main deck of the vessel and is fitted out to provide a main service bar area, full commercial kitchen and various dining areas most of which have expansive sea views. There are also restroom facilities on this level.

Stairs from the main café lead down to a large lounge area set up as an events venue with bar, storage and direct access to restrooms. Another flight of stairs leads up from the main café to an upper level lounge and bar plus an office area in the very front of the vessel. There is a further upper level with a smaller lounge area and storage.

The tugboat is in tidy interior condition and currently the front portion of the boat is being re-waterproofed and painted.

Sherlock says the tugboat has a Wellington City Council licence to occupy which includes seven exclusive free-of-charge car parks, along with resource consent and a coastal permit from the Wellington Regional Council.


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