Cycle trail boom motivates restaurant sale
The recent boom in regional eco’ tourism has inspired the owners of a long-standing food and beverage business smack in the middle of one of New Zealand’s most popular cycle tracks to cash up their investment.
The Ohinemuri Winery & Restaurant in the Karangahake Gorge between Waihi and Paeroa in the Northern Waikato has been operating for more than two decades as a licensed dining establishment and function venue.
However, the opening of the Hauraki Rail Trail early in 2012 has seen visitor numbers through the gorge rise dramatically – and in parallel, so to have customer numbers grown at the Ohinemuri hospitality venue located half way along one off the track’s three stages.
The Ohinemuri venue’s original buildings were designed and constructed in 1980 by an Englishman who was previously a set designer with the Royal Opera in Covent Garden. He based the design style on buildings he had seen in Latvia during his European operatic travels.
After a successful 21 year trading history, Ohinemuri Winery & Restaurant owners Horst and Wendy Hillerich have decided to divest their ownership in the hospitality and accommodation services side of the business – placing it on the market for sale in time for a new owner to potentially capitalise on the upcoming busy summer tourist season.
The business is being marketed for sale by Bayleys Tauranga. Sales person Brendon Bradley said the hospitality business was predominantly run as a ‘lifestyle’ operation – with the Ohinemuri brand producing a selection of white wines including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, as well as a pinot noir. Grapes are sourced from Gisborne, Marlborough, and the Wairarapa.
The 262 square metre restaurant was the first structure built at the complex in 1980.It was refurbished in 1993, and extended in 2006. The building encompasses a wine shop/tasting room, main dining room with garden courtyard, commercial-graded kitchen, a second mezzanine-level dining space, and commercial accommodation upstairs.
A one-bedroom apartment housed in the original loft above the restaurant has its own kitchenette and bathroom, and sleeps four people. The unit rents for between $120 - $165 per night.
The 172 square metre purpose-built winery was constructed in 1993. Founded on concrete flooring, the winery has a 10 metre pitched roof ceiling adding to the ambience encircling the array of tanks, chillers, and interconnecting array of pipes.
The business is being sold with an owner/operator’s family residence – featuring a substantial four bedroom dwelling with three toilets and two bathrooms. The business and buildings are situated on 1.53 hectares of land.
“Winemakers are renowned for their passion about what they produce – and Horst and Wendy are certainly no exception. They would like to retain the winery and are open to negotiating a potential lease-back of the winery plant with a view to supplying the adjoining restaurant and function venue with Ohinemuri branded wines,” Mr Bradley said.
“Of course they are also open to selling the business lock, stock, and naturally… barrels.”
The Hauraki Rail Trail was created through a partnership between the Hauraki District Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Thames-Coromandel District Council, the Department of Conservation, and The New Zealand Cycle Trail project.
A recent report by the Government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment noted the huge economic benefits which cycle trails such as Hauraki had delivered to provincial New Zealand.
The report highlighted that respondents visiting the cycle trail regions “only or mainly because of the cycle trails” spent an average of between $131 and $176 per person per day – with 20 percent of participating businesses involved with the routes indicating that they had expanded since the opening of the cycle trail in their region.
“More than a third of business survey participants indicated that they had seen an increase in the number of customers served by their business, with flowon effects in business income/turnover and business expenditure, but also in profit,” the Government report said.
“Corresponding with estimates of economic contribution made as a result of the Trail User survey, positive impact was most often seen by businesses around the Hauraki Rail Trail.”
The research noted that specifically for the Hauraki Rail Trail, the track attracted what it identified as: “larger numbers of local users and visitors on day trips from neighbouring population centres (such as Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga), that users were often more familyoriented, and that a larger proportion of users walked the trail.”
The Ohinemuri Winery & Restaurant is open seven days a week in summer from 10am to 5pm with a license allowing for 20 late night ‘special functions’ a year, and scaling back to a Wednesday to Sunday operation over winter. The business employs a full-time chef, two part-time staff and casual food and beverage and retail personnel as required in addition to owner/operators Horst and Wendy Hillerich.