10 Storied Hotels in New Zealand Connected to the Culture of its Earliest Inhabitants

The history of New Zealand dates back at least 700 years to when it was discovered and settled by Polynesians, who developed a distinct Māori culture centered on kinship links and land. Across New Zealand, you’ll find storied hotels with endless stories to tell about how they are connected to the natural resources, culture, and activities of its earliest inhabitant. The following are some of the most storied New Zealand hotels you should make your next adventure.

1. The Kentish Hotel

The Kentish hotel was built in the heart of Waiuku town, Auckland as an inn in 1851 by Edward Constable a migrant from Maidstone, Kent in England. It currently holds the oldest continuous liquor license in New Zealand. The hotel’s name “Kent” was culled from Kent, a street behind Constable Road. In 1926, the New Zealand hotel nearly burned down when a fire destroyed a block of the wooden buildings opposite. As the wind fanned the flames a host of volunteers poured water and hung wet sheets over the facade saving most of the building from significant damage. The hotel with its ornate verandahs provides a historic center point to Waiuku and the neighboring Tamakae reserve. The Tamakae reserve has the statue of Tamakae carved from swamp Kauri logs and serves as a base for the Waiuku Museum, among other attractions in the Auckland region of North Island of New Zealand. The Auckland hotel has hosted important dignitaries across the country due to its location along a major trading route and attractions which include Manukau Heads and lighthouse, museum, lovely black sandy beaches, a local winery, and local cheese maker.

2. The Duke of Marlborough

The Duke of Marlborough began its life in 1827 as “Johnny Johnstons Grog Shop”. The owner Johnny Johnston was an ex-convict come good. He became fluent in Te Reo and was very well regarded by the local Maori. This relationship led to Johnston being able to purchase the freehold site of the Duke – which was one of the first land sales to a European in New Zealand.

In the 1830s, Russell or Kororareka, as it was known then, was the biggest whaling port in the Southern Hemisphere and turned out to be a bit of an eye opener for the missionaries. Up to 500 whalers at a time would arrive in Russell after twelve months at sea, with Russell having no effective law enforcement agency, the scene wasn’t ideal. Prostitution was one of the area’s largest industries and many local women frequently entered into 3-week marriages.

Johnson quickly changed the name of his New Zealand hotel to the Duke of Marlborough, at the time the Duke of Marlborough was the world’s richest man, so the name sought to bring respect, elegance, and opulence to the “Hell Hole of the Pacific”. The first Duke building was burnt in 1845 but was quickly rebuilt by Johnny in 1878.

The hotel was managed by twelve different private investors from 1878 to 2003 and is currently owned by the Mein host since 2010. Duke, a 3-4 star hotel operating for over 160 years has been a proven haven of hospitality in New Zealand and possesses all facilities to make your stay worthwhile.

3. The Old Ferry Hotel

Incipiently located at the bank of Shotover, the Old Ferry hotel was built in 1863 by Frederick Foster in Queenstown. Known for his caring behavior, the hotel was built with the interest of its inhabitants at heart as well as to quench the thirst of miners and travelers en-route to Queenstown during the Central Otago Gold Rush. The first bridge across the Shotover River was opened, which caused all its traffic to pass by The Ferry Hotel. This made it accessible and available to service miners, farmers and merchants. Unfortunately, the Old Ferry hotel was destroyed by fire in 1872 and rebuilt the same year. It was consistently opened to welcome customers until the bridge was closed 1912 and a new one constructed upstream in 1913. It continued to operate as a hotel until 1971 when Land Transport built the new modern bridge near its original site. The Old Hotel wasn’t up for moving again and decided to grow old gracefully. In 1994, the hotel was opened again to offer a boutique and bed and breakfast to its visiting clients. Currently, Dan and Mitzi Cole-Bailey are now the proprietors of this establishment.

Its proximity to Queenstown airport, peaceful rural setting and heritage building that features a lot of photos documenting its history and the history of the region amongst others makes it a hotel of choice in the area. This and a lot more ensures a lovely stay and fantastic hospitality for your monumental holiday when you visit The Old Ferry Hotel.

4. The New Orleans Hotel 

This hotel is an old Arrowtown charm and provides modern comfort. Arrowtown recorded an influx of about 6000 people due to gold being discovered in the Arrow River in 1862. This led to the establishment Fox’s diggings now New Orleans Hotel in 1866 aimed to cater for the thirst of the gold miners in the town. By the late 1870s, there were only six hotels left in the Arrowtown and New Orleans was one of them. Its name was changed to Central Hotel in the 1920s but was reversed to the original in the 1970s. The hotel is a three-minute walk from the Arrow River, a two-minute walk from Lakes District Museum and 5 km from State Highway 6 features views of the nearby mountains. The Hotel now managed by Kerry and Rob Andrews was formerly managed by Christchurch-based Peter Whittaker.

The 152-year-old New Zealand hotel is a haven of pleasure that offers easy access to the historic environs of Arrowtown which include the Chinese miner’s village. Now a 3-4 star hotel, New Orleans presents a friendly service and accommodation to its esteemed clients with excellent meals and some stunning views of the Arrow River. It also serves the traditional pub fare from its in-house bar and restaurant.

5. Cardrona Hotel

Founded in 1863, Cardrona hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Cardrona, New Zealand. It was built at the time miner prospectors flocked the area and was one of four hotels in the town that offers accommodation and livery services to farmers, gold miners, and itinerant travelers. The hotel is currently owned by business partners Cade Thornton and James Jenneson.

Located on the spectacular Crown Range road between Wanaka and Queenstown, the Cardrona Hotel is the special base for parties and a perfect base with a charming 4-star accommodation and facilities for tourist and travelers to enjoy a relaxing break and an adrenaline-filled adventure holiday exploring the beautiful Central Otago region.

6. Eichardt’s Private Hotel

Originally located in front of Lake Wakatipu in 1859 as a woolshed, William Gilbert Rees, an early Queenstown settler converted his woolshed to a wooden façade and later to a hotel named Queen’s Arms after seeing himself at the center of a gold rush at the nearby of the Shotover river. In early 1866, the entrepreneurial Rees signed a partnership with Albert Eichardt who later became the owner of the hotel by 1869. Eichardt renamed the hotel Eichardt’s Queen’s Arms Hotel but was popularly known as Eichardt’s Private Hotel. The New Zealand hotel welcomed mostly tourists as the town developed gradually from a mining settlement into something more permanent.

Eichardt’s Private Hotel now provides comfortable accommodation in seven luxurious hotel suites with its historic building located on a premium lakefront position at the heart of Queenstown’s café and restaurant vicinities. The New Zealand hotel shows contemporary provincial distinction with its modern features which is in perfect consonance with its charming antiques and luxurious furniture.

7. Esplanade Hotel

It all started in 1900 when a local company, Northern Property Limited purchased the old Flagstaff Hotel, located on the current Esplanade Hotel site in Devonport seaside, Auckland. The Flagstaff was removed and plans were concluded to construct the Esplanade Hotel. The construction of the building which was a prototype of the English’s Brighton and Blackpool resort hotels started in 1901 by Archibald Grandison and was completed in February 1903. It was a popular seaside hotel which hosted the Ponsonby Cruising club. The members of the club posed outside the hotel for a photograph and were sent to Sir Thomas Lipton along with their request for a trophy. Seeing this, Sir Thomas Lipton was impressed with their clubhouse and sent a solid silver trophy for their competition with a promise to visit the clubhouse in New Zealand, a dream that never came to reality.

8. Greytown Hotel

Constructed in 1860 by Edward Fellow on a site that was sold to him in 1859 by Charles Carter, Greytown Hotel is one of the oldest surviving hotels in New Zealand. The New Zealand hotel was strategically positioned in the historic town of Greytown and boasted of easy traveling distance to the local wineries, galleries, outdoor adventure activities, and other local attractions. Greytown hotel has been purchased by several managers with Tony and Ursula Murphy as the current owner.

9. Prince’s Gate Hotel

Originally established in 1897 in Waihi, Prince’s gate hotel formerly The Central Hotel still remains a showpiece in the heart of Rotorua even after weathering a number of turbulent trials. In the early 1900s, Wahili town the third largest in New Zealand and the richest in the world due to its Marta gold mine. The Central Hotel catered effectively for the needs of miners and visitors, hosting big weddings thereby making it a hotel with superior quality. After its sale to Moss David in 1906, a decline in the hotel’s activities was recorded from 1908 to 1912. In 1917, the New Zealand hotel was relocated and reassembled in Rotorua and renamed the Prince’s Gate Hotel.

10. Okoroire Hot Spring Hotel

The Hot Spring Hotel was built in the 1880s from native timbers and began its operation in 1889 with Mrs. Isaacs as the first Licensee. It has provided hospitality to tourists and travelers from Auckland to relax and proceed on their journey to Rotorua and Taupo. The New Zealand hotel has also accommodated tourists and the sick that visited the Okoroire hot spring, which is well known to cure all types of aches and pains.

More Stories
The Algonquin Hotel New York: Literary Legends Know Why The Caged Bird Sings