The Coroglen Tavern is one of New Zealand's remaining iconic country pubs. Although the sale yards closed a couple of years back, the grand old building by the side of State Highway 25 at Coroglen is still a locals' watering hole and refreshing way stop on the drive up the eastern coast of The Coromandel.
With all the classic elements, pool tables, dart boards and league tables, cool ales and mussel fritters are complemented by ika mata and wifi. By night "The Tav" takes on another life, as venue to visiting bands and musicians and a mandatory stop for a great line-up of summer gigs on its large outdoor stage.
Owners Shell and Jed are a couple of characters relishing life in a Coromandel classic, taking advantage of the Covid-19 lockdown closure to pick up a hammer on a couple of projects.
The Tavern is a much-loved Coromandel icon. What is it that appealed to you?
To be honest we’d been living in Wanaka for a couple of years and were looking at trying to move back to The Coromandel. We knew we wanted to run our own business but we had no idea in what area we wanted to be in.
The opportunity came up to work and live at the Tavern around May 2013 (we call it our “publicans in training” era) to see if we liked the place then on the 13th Jan 2014, we bought the lease. A few years after that we bought the land and buildings.
As for what it was that appealed to us, well it’s the Coroglen Tavern isn't it! We had no experience in hospo apart from busting a few tables as a kids in town for petrol money or plane tickets… but we thought let’s give it a crack, we like beer, we like living in the country and we both love music, can’t be that hard.
We were young (both 30), clueless and bulletproof but determined to get the Tav pumping.
What was the inspiration/motivation behind the renovations at The Coroglen Tavern?
Last year we bit the bullet and finally demoed the old pub next door (which was a bit rundown and in disrepair when we bought the place) and started turning the space into a beautiful garden bar. We always had the plan to salvage as much as we could from the building to be used in the Tav as a homage to the past (the old bones of the place were beautiful Kauri and Totara) but we weren’t sure how or when we’d get the chance to do it as we’d need to close the Tav to the public.
Obviously Covid-19 hit and we took the opportunity to get stuck in and give the old girl a new paint job and polish but we also built a new bar out of the old Kauri timber and Totara Piles.
A wee bit about you perhaps?
Jed was born and raised in Whitianga, I moved here when I was a wee kid so The Coromandel was our playground growing up. In our early 20’s we moved overseas together and travelled the world for 4 years. We then moved home and had our two children but still had itchy feet so when our son was only a few months old we moved to Wanaka with our 2 year old daughter for a couple of years. The kids were what made us want to move back to The Coromandel so they could have the same upbringing as we had.
Any key characters amongst your customers (bet there are lots)?
Gosh they’re all b***** characters! We have a dedicated Locals Table (otherwise known as Pratty’s office) that sits right at the front of the bar. When that table’s pumping any visitors that enter the Tav are in for a real kiwi experience. One minute you're chatting about why you’re here and where you’re from, the next you’re jacked up to go pig hunting or snapper fishing the next day.
To have a real local experience though, be here on a Thursday Darts Night… it’s the best night of the week where locals from all over jump into the Tav’s courtesy van for a night out with the crew.
What is your favourite local thing to do?
Anything water based! Fishing, surfing, snorkelling, swimming, beaching… not just in the sea either. We’ve got brilliant fresh water creeks and rivers around us that are so awesome to explore with the kids.
We also love going out to eat when we get the chance. There are so many great places around now it’s hard to choose but they’re all run by fantastic people that we love to catch up with and have a yarn.
What is it that is so great about living in Coroglen?
It’s a beautiful little quiet village that’s in the middle of so many awesome places.
We’ve also got a fantastic little community here too. We’ve been here at the Tavern 7 years now, our kids were little when we moved back to The Coromandel so they’ve been bought up at the Tavern with a bunch of awesome people around them.
What do people appreciate the most about The Coroglen Tavern?
I think it’s the local feel you get from the place. The relaxed atmosphere and familiar faces. We also have a pretty rad Tav menu that is so popular that when we change it we get complaints, and because of this we haven’t changed it in years! We do crank out some awesome specials though to keep things interesting.
Plus we have epic summer concerts and have had some pretty amazing bands here from all over the world.
What do you recommend all visitors to your place to do while they are here?
Hit the beaches, but not the norm ones. We send them to Te Karo Bay, Lonely Bay, Waikawau if they have the time. We also tell them to climb a mountain, The Pinnacles or Castle Rock. We’ve got our own little information centre set up at the Tav so if they’re wanting attractions or activities we can point them in the right direction.
She’s gonna be a hard slog getting out of this Covid slump for a lot of local businesses especially in Hospo and Tourism. So when we finally get out of our Covid-hole, we’re going to get out and about with the kids on The Coromandel and try some of the things we’ve never done before. The Karangahake Gorge tunnel, zip-lining at Driving Creek, boat tours etc.
Support Local we say!