The History

At over 160 years old, The Riverhead is thought to be New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern and holds New Zealand’s second oldest liquor licence and remains fully New Zealand owned.

Nestled on the shores of the upper Waitemata, The Riverhead is steeped in local history and played a part in the development of early New Zealand, with thousands using the wharf and hotel as the gateway to lands in the north prior to the completion of roads and railway.

In 2010 this grand old lady was extensively renovated and reopened in 2011, with new emphasis on providing a truly memorable hospitality experience, serving fresh New Zealand food with flair, great beers, local wines and good coffee. While these renovations have transformed The Riverhead – its tradition, history, and the physical building itself has been kept and carefully restored to its former glory.

Thomas William Deacon.  First established the Riverhead in1857 after arriving in New Zealand with the Royal Navy.

Thomas William Deacon.

First established the Riverhead in1857 after arriving in New Zealand with the Royal Navy.

 

The New Beginning

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We don’t just want to cut lunch over its history and the old days of what used to go on here. We want to bring back the stories of Mr and Mrs Deacon.
— Stephen & Paula Pepperell, Owners of the Riverhead

After returning to New Zealand after a 9 year around-the-world sailing adventure (in a boat they built themselves) Waikato couple Paula and Stephen Pepperell were looking for a commercial project to sink their teeth into.

Enter a worse-for-wear Riverhead Tavern! Subject of a mortgagee sale and very unloved, Paula and Stephen saw the potential. And after 7 months, 5 separate building consents, 4 resource consents, 14 tons of gib, 92 paint test pots, 34 wallpaper samples, numerous contractors, engineers, consultants, council meetings, 29 signed contracts with banks and breweries, not to mention a few sleepless nights, they had their first foray into hospitality!

Four years later the bubbly couple are still right in the thick of things, keeping the standards of service high, continually looking for ways to keep improving The Riverhead experience and most import


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