Central Otago’s pub sales heating up

Chatto Creek Tavern owners Grant and Fiona Sutherland are among the many people who have swapped...
Chatto Creek Tavern owners Grant and Fiona Sutherland are among the many people who have swapped big city living for Central Otago after taking over the tavern last year. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

Potential publicans are eyeing up Central Otago watering holes.

Several of the district’s pubs and hotels could soon be off the market following keen interest among buyers over recent weeks.

As of this week, the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans had a conditional contract setting out a clear sales date.

Harcourts Alexandra marketing consultant Geoff Beckley said it was hoped confirmation would be made in the next couple of weeks.

‘‘It could be sooner.’’

He said The Vulcan Hotel was the subject of a recent three-week marketing programme, which had a ‘‘satisfactory result’’.

‘‘There was interest from all over the place, including overseas.’’

He said the potential buyer planned to continue operating the premises as a hotel and pub, keeping its existing character.

There was also potential progress at the Lauder Pub.

Mr Beckley said the pub, which had been on the market for just over 90 days, was currently priced by negotiation.

He said there had been a contract on it, which fell through, but interest continued to remain ‘‘strong’’.

There was now another contract on it.

Mr Beckley also recently listed Alexandra’s Middle Pub, which had gone up for tender for the land and building only.

Tenders closed yesterday.

He was not sure what had prompted the recent interest in the marketplace, particularly among pubs and hotels.

‘‘Some of those places have been on the market and haven’t been able to be moved, but we do have an extensive database in New Zealand and overseas.

‘‘It’s about getting the right people in front of the right property — it can take a fair bit of work.’’

Blacks Hotel at Ophir was also on the market and had showed promising signs of a potential sale.

Business saleswoman Donna Harpur-Swain, of ABC Business Sales, said there had been some ‘‘very strong’’ interest in the business, including two to three potential buyers.

‘‘It’s generating interest all around the country.’’

Tourism Properties.com agent Adrian Chisholm has proved there were buyers, after selling the Chatto Creek pub just over a year ago.

‘‘It’s just a matter of finding the right buyer that wants a country pub.’’

The latest listings follow the sale of Chatto Creek Tavern, Ranfurly Lion Hotel, Omakau Commercial Hotel and Patearoa Hotel within the past year or more. The latter reopened upon sale.

Mr Chisholm was still waiting for the right buyer to come along for the Wedderburn Tavern, which would provide them with ‘‘a lot of bang for their buck’’, he said.

Located on the Otago Central Rail Trail, the tavern was on more than 4ha of land in Maniototo.

He said as uncertain times persisted due to Covid-19, particularly overseas, more and more expats were returning home and investing in jobs and property.

‘‘There is more interest than normal and has been since Covid started.

‘‘The whole world has changed and everyone’s ideals have changed, so there is more movement where people are wanting to move to the Maniototo or Central Otago for lifestyle reasons.’’

Mr Chisholm said the ‘‘huge’’ amount of people cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail had meant there was great opportunity for businesses in the area to succeed.

‘‘Businesses associated with the trail become really viable businesses to own and operate.’’

Oturehua Railway Hotel and Tavern owners Grahame and Liz Jones also had their property on the market, but were in no hurry to move on.

They did have the property listed online with agents, but Mr Jones said they were plagued with tyre-kickers.

The couple had since decided to list privately.

Their aim was to slow down a bit and allow someone else to come in with ‘‘fresh ideas’’.

‘‘A change is healthy,’’ Mr Jones said.

ALEXIA.JOHNSTON @thenews.co.nz

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