Busi­ness on the up in Omakau

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

A mini hous­ing boom in Omakau and hordes of mid­dle-aged cy­clists pass­ing through has busi­ness steadily climb­ing in the area.

The pub, cafe, Four Square and cy­cle tour busi­nesses have a reg­u­lar flow of peo­ple in and out the front doors.

Omakau Com­mer­cial Ho­tel own­ers Stacey Steven­son and Michael Thomas are full most nights through­out the sum­mer thanks in part to be­ing awarded the best coun­try pub in New Zealand last year and a steady in­flux of peo­ple mov­ing to the area.

‘‘It’s got a re­ally good buzz about it at the mo­ment,’’ says Steven­son of the town. ’’As far as peo­ple ac­tu­ally mov­ing into the area, there has been a huge in­crease. That’s ex­cit­ing.’’

When the cou­ple took over the ho­tel 10 years ago, there was just one house in the Tiger Hill Es­tate sub­di­vi­sion, she says.

Now more and more fam­i­lies were mak­ing the town home.

‘‘I think a lot of it is af­ford­abil­ity. It’s a great place to bring up kids. Omakau is just go­ing to go from strength to strength re­ally.’’

Builder Dave Cock­burn moved his young fam­ily back to Omakau four years ago after mov­ing away when he left high school.

‘‘The Omakau area has all you need,’’ he says. ‘‘It has great peo­ple and is a great place to bring up a fam­ily.‘‘

Cock­burn em­ploys 12 peo­ple, five from Omakau, and does 50 per cent of his busi­ness in town.

Build­ing a new house is pos­si­ble for young fam­i­lies in Omakau and with Alexan­dra just 15 min­utes away, peo­ple see it as a more vi­able op­tion with all of the same ben­e­fits, he says.

In the past 12 months Omakau has reg­is­tered 24 sales, 16 of those res­i­den­tial sec­tions.

Har­courts Alexan­dra man­ager John Pe­tre com­pares that with 2015 where in Alexan­dra, a town with a pop­u­la­tion more than 20 times that of Omakau, not a sin­gle sec­tion was sold.

Omakau is ben­e­fit­ing from the high cost of hous­ing in other ar­eas, Pe­tre says.

‘‘I be­lieve peo­ple are look­ing for town­ships like Omakau for life­style and fam­ily rea­sons and this will con­tinue to grow in the fore­see­able fu­ture.’’

Cen­tral Otago prices re­mained about 90 per cent lower than Wanaka and Queen­stown, a re­cent Har­courts re­port says.

‘‘It was only nat­u­ral that peo­ple would start to seek out more af­ford­able prop­erty in the sur­round­ing ar­eas.’’

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