The following comes from an email today by Rendell McIntosh, curator at Alberton in Mt Albert.
Update: 29 November 2013
The original hotel at Riverhead, before the township got that name (as a result of J S McFarlane's 1863 sale) was Deacon's Inn, from c.1855. The Riverhead Hotel was built by William Good in early 1863, operating by April that year, on land purchased from McFarlane (DI 9A.184, LINZ records). Somewhat confusing is that members of the Deacon family ran the first inn, and then the Riverhead Hotel by the early 1870s after mortgagee sales.
It was a lovely surprise to recently go to the Riverhead area and its pub for the first time. The Kerr Taylor family of Alberton in Mt Albert had a connection with this area through boating up the harbour and travelling onto their farm land at Waimauku. The pub was built in 1857 and the sign proclaims “oldest riverside pub in NZ”. Last May it was purchased in a mortgagee sale by a couple, who had arrived back after years of sailing commitments in the Mediterranean, to set up a tourist venture. The transformation is wonderful.
The outside building shell has been retained with the inside gutted, a nice bar area, and a lovely kiwi style dining area which flows out onto a veranda and then down steps to the wharf area – where boats can still moor after travelling up from downtown Auckland. They have never advertised yet have already been voted Best Country Pub in the Auckland region by the NZ Herald. You have to book 2-3 weeks in advance to get a seat for a meal.
They will soon start upgrading a building alongside and have seating for 145 people for wedding receptions/functions. A lovely location looking out towards the river and regrowth trees. I didn’t sample the food but hopefully we can organise a NZ Historic Places Trust trip there to check out the venue/catering. In one small side room, which would be ideal for a meeting space, the walls are covered with pics from the original owners plus an enlarged Papers Plus article about an incident which happened at the pub. Its only 15min from the city so a perfect place for us to recommend for any couples who get married at Alberton and want to go onto a reception venue. As above, there is a perfect historical synergy between the Kerr Taylor family in Mt Albert and going up to Riverhead and their farm land. No plans for accommodation or a bed and breakfast operation in the upstairs area. Simply a lovely old pub with catering/refreshments and an excellent example of showing how an old venue can be restored/used for modern purposes. Enjoy it if you have a mid week or Sat or Sun drive lunch in mind.