Rail trail brings tourism to town and tavern
Te Aroha’s Grand Tavern is ideally placed for the expansion of one of the district’s most successful tourism developments.
The tavern sits in Te Aroha’s main street directly opposite the historic Te Aroha Domain, which offers a selection of thermal bathing options, the Te Aroha and Districts Museum and the i-Site.
The building was recently placed on the property market, by Bayleys, on behalf of private owners.
Te Aroha Business Association chairman Shaun O’Neill said the coming 28km extension of the popular Hauraki Rail Trail would bring new business to the town and, for the Grand Tavern, directly to its front door.
‘‘As a business association we realise we need to promote the tourism opportunities offered by the town.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of work going on with the (Matamata-Piako District) council to extend the rail trail from Te Aroha to Matamata.’’
Opened in 2012, the Hauraki Rail Trail currently runs from Thames to Paeroa, east to Waihi and south to the former Te Aroha railway station.
O’Neill said $3 million had already been earmarked for the extension project by the district council, and further funding was being sought from central Government with the aim of completing the extension in 12 months.
‘‘’At the moment there’s about 200,000 people a year using the Hauraki Rail Trail, but most of that is the Paeroa to Waihi section through the Karangahake Gorge.
‘‘But it’s similar to the Otago Rail Trail: the longer it is the better it is.
‘‘Once the trail is through to Matamata we should see a big jump in the numbers of people coming into town.’’
With a sports bar, TAB outlet, gaming lounge and lounge bar, the tavern is part of the heritage zone designated by the council’s district plan, which requires its main architectural elements to be maintained in close to their original form.
O’Neill said Te Aroha had been discovered by Aucklanders who were retiring in the town’s quiet and scenic environment, which was also bringing more people and business into town.
‘‘It’s a fantastic place for people to live.
‘‘It’s a bit off the main track but only an hour and a half from Auckland and 40 minutes from Hamilton,’’ he said.
Te Aroha Business Association chairman Shaun O’Neill, says rail trail will offer tourism opportunities.