It was once famous for its collection of mutant animals and now a 130-year-old Northland tavern is up for sale.
The historic Kaihu Tavern - land, building and business - has been placed on the market.
The heritage-rich country pub, about 32km north of Dargaville, sits on State Highway 12 which links with the Waipoua Forest – home to the iconic Tane Mahuta kauri.
The tavern traces its roots back to the late-1800s in New Zealand's colonial era when the surrounding countryside was being harvested of kauri and buried kauri gum. During Kaihu's heyday, long freight trains would daily transport kauri logs from the region down to Dargaville where they were processed.
Originally the Opanaki Hotel, the Kaihu Tavern has a Category 2 Historic Place classification on New Zealand's register of Historic Places.
The back half of the hotel was previously a small lodge sitting atop nearby Kaihu Hill, and was moved onto its current location when the front two-storey portion of the structure was subsequently added.
The pub's popularity waned in parallel to the decline in kauri logging in the lead up to World War I, but the venue found a second wind of life with the opening of the Waipoua Road in 1928, which is now SH12.
Like all classic Kiwi country pubs, the Kaihu Tavern is steeped in legendary tales – dating right back to the pub's earliest days in the late 1890s. Such as when Prime Minister Richard 'King Dick' Seddon was scheduled to officially open the nearby northern rail line, but failed to turn up – much to the dismay of scores of locals who had journeyed for many hours to witness the formal occasion.
The train line was instead opened by an inebriated Northern Wairoa local who was transported out of the tavern in a wooden wheelbarrow and officially cut the ceremonial ribbon with a pair of borrowed hedge clippers.
The Kaihu Tavern's most famous landlord, jack-of-all trades Albert Docherty, bought the hostelry in 1916. While simultaneously avoiding the taxman for four consecutive years – eventually leading to a court appearance and fines – Docherty established the Kaihu Tavern as a museum-like showpiece of rural New Zealand flora, fauna, and cultural curios, all of which were showpiece mounted and hung throughout the pub.
Pride of place in Docherty's taxidermy menagerie displayed around the pub were a two-headed calf, a four-legged chicken, a pukeko whose plumage replicated the colours of the New Zealand flag and a substantial ball of hair from a cow's stomach.
The tavern's bizarre animal-world curios sat alongside Docherty's extensive collection of kauri gum and Māori weapons such as clubs and spears. Other more mainstream wildlife exhibits adorning the public bar walls included several deer heads, mounted trout, and boars' tusks. A near 100-year-old black and white photograph of Docherty's bar festooned with its weird exhibits sits above the counter.
The famous collection went from public display when Docherty sold the business in 1951.
The former bar displays are now believed to be scattered throughout New Zealand – held in various private collections and other country pubs.
Sitting on a 4816sq m rurally-zoned site, the Kaihu Tavern's freehold land, buildings and going concern hospitality business are now being marketed for sale for offers over $600,000 through Bayleys Dargaville.