Rail trail brings tourism to town and tav­ern

Piako Post - - OUT & ABOUT - GEOFF LEWIS

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.

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