Putting the Fizz back in the Hau­raki Plains


The Hau­raki Rail Trail has ar­rived about twenty years too late for Ron and Mar­garet Tyrrell of Tiro­hia. The cou­ple were hap­pily en­joy­ing semire­tire­ment on their two acre property eight kilo­me­tres from Paeroa, un­til the Prime Min­is­ter’s cy­cle­way popped up along­side their boundary fence.

The Tyrrell’s bold new ven­ture has been aptly named the “The De­pot Gar­den” af­ter the property’s pre­vi­ous life as a stor­age fa­cil­ity. They live on the site which was once the Tiro­hia Europa Petrol De­pot. Fuel was stored on the property from 1941 un­til 1976. Ini­tially it was sent from Auck­land by barge, later it was de­liv­ered to Tiro­hia by rail, un­til fi­nally it was trucked to the De­pot.

These days “The De­pot Gar­den” is a pop­u­lar stop for pass­ing cy­clists and vis­it­ing tourists alike. Serv­ing Devon­shire Teas, the sprightly pair have found them­selves run­ning a thriv­ing busi­ness open seven days dur­ing the peak sum­mer pe­riod.

“Ron makes the scones and I mow the lawns” laughs Mar­garet. “We are a good part­ner­ship.” It took Ron some­time to per­fect the art of the scone mak­ing and he can­didly ad­mits his ini­tial gluten-free ef­forts left much to be de­sired. Happy to con­cede de­feat on that count, The De­pot now out­sources its gluten-free savouries.

Their spreads how­ever are all home-made. I chowed down on a cheese scone with all the trap­pings; but­ter, cream with a healthy dol­lop of the Tyrrell’s own Apri­cot & Pas­sion­fruit jam. Other spread­able op­tions on the menu in­cluded Straw­berry and Crab Ap­ple Jelly.

“Clot­ted cream” Ron di­vulges is the es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent which sig­ni­fies an au­then­tic Devon­shire Tea. “We de­cided not to use clot­ted cream how­ever be­cause it’s a time-con­sum­ing process to pro­duce and also ex­pen­sive to buy. So we use nor­mal whipped cream and no­body com­plains al­though some of the Bri­tish cus­tomers do have us on about it” he smiles.

“It didn’t take too much of a re­fit and sud­denly we had a commercial kitchen” says a beam­ing Mar­garet while show­ing off shelves full of colourful crock­ery. “All of our teas are served in china cups. Trade Me cer­tainly is a great thing!”

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