Major moves ahead for riverside coastal town

00:25, Nov 12 2012
putt stand
Graham and Gloria Putt outside their Mokau business. They say trade is good in the small coastal community.

Nestled within a postcard- perfect setting, it's a wonder more business haven't moved in on Mokau.

A butchery, a backpackers, a motel, two camp grounds, two cafes and two riverboat cruises are the backbone of the Mokau business community.

Mokau's main street - State Highway 3 - has as many empty business as it does occupied ones.

Residents Graham and Gloria Putt, who have owned Mokau Butchery for 21 years, say there are more out of town visitors these days than residents.

But business is going well for the butchery, despite most of its customers now being motorists passing through.

Many of those customers are Aucklanders who consider a rural butcher who offers good quality meat as something of a novelty.


"Aucklanders love this little country butchery and go home and talk about where they got their meat from," Mrs Putt said.

Mokau Butchery specialises in homekill and traditionally prepared meat, such as old- fashioned sausages and cured bacon.

"I don't know what they get in the city, but ours is all genuine, old-fashioned," Mrs Putt said.

Cashflow at the butchery had improved dramatically since the couple installed an eftpos machine in March, she said.

"It's boosting our income massively."

Most houses in Mokau were now being sold as beach homes, and familiar faces were becoming few and far between in the settlement, which has a permanent population of about 400, she said.

"It's more and more a beach town now."

Both of Mokau's camp grounds are likely to soon see some changes.

Consent is being sought to turn the Seaview Holiday Park camp ground into 31 three-story residential units and a 50-seat restaurant.

In April Mokau Sands Ltd, trading as Seaview Motor Camp, applied to Waikato Regional Council and Waitomo District Council for resource consent to begin redevloping the camp site.

Mokau Sands director Michael Hammond would not speak to the Taranaki Daily News about the project except to say the development was progressing.

"It's going very well," Hammond said.

The 4.41 hectare site now had about 50 powered sites and 30 un- powered sites, as well as cabins and flats.

Plans showed the 31 new apartments would be three storeys high, all in one row.

Meanwhile, Whitebait Inn owners Jenny and Graham Marsden are selling up their camp site, cafe and business after 11 years at the helm.

Mrs Marsden said it had been on the market for about four years now.

The couple were selling up because they felt like a change, she said.

The sale includes the business, two houses and the camp site, which has 21 powered sites and four cabins, she said.

"It's a really good business, it's just time for us to go," Mrs Marsden said.

Since taking over more than a decade ago business had remained steady, she said.

"We're still trading really well.

"Our biggest drawcard, of course, is the whitebait."

There had been plenty of interest in the site since going on the market, just no takers.

"We're out on a limb in Mokau really. Most of our business would be travellers."

Mrs Marsden said she was all for the development plans at Seaview Holiday Park up the road.

"Progress is always good for people."

Mokau River Cruises had been going well since re-launching the recently restored Mokau cream boat, the Cygnet, owner Dawn Colman says.

Mrs Colman and her husband Neil run cruises 14 kilometres up the Mokau River on the Cygnet, which has been a feature of the river for nearly 100 years, Mrs Colman said.

They also offer passengers the opportunity to spend a night 12km up the Mokau River in Braids Hut - a restored, historic cow shed.

Braids Hut has hot showers, flushing toilet, gas cooking and bunk beds.

Until recently the 22-seater Cygnet had been sitting on a cradle undergoing a makeover in preparation for its centenary.

"Literally we're dancing around because we're so happy to have the boat back," Mrs Colman said.

"She's looking beautiful."

The Cygnet was one of two cruise boats on the Mokau River, she said.

Since the relaunch they had run several trips up river and were now gearing up for the busy pre- Christmas rush and the summer holiday boom, she said.

"Word of mouth of course is our best advertising tool of all."

They are in the final planning stages with Venture Taranaki of organising a 100-year celebration on Taranaki Anniversary weekend in March, she said.

Taranaki Daily News