The Old Convent

21 Anglesea Street, Arrowtown

  • The Old Convent, Arrowtown.
    Copyright: Alan Jenkins. Taken By: Alan Jenkins. Date: 11/12/2008.
  • The Old Convent, Arrowtown. View of the Old Convent facing away from Anglesea Street.
    Copyright: Alan Jenkins. Taken By: Alan Jenkins. Date: 30/10/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2089 Date Entered 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 6 Blk II Town of Arrowtown (CT OT414/46), Otago Land District and the building known as the Old Convent thereon.

City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 6 Blk II Town of Arrowtown (CT OT414/46), Otago Land District


On the corner of Anglesea and Merioneth Streets in Arrowtown, is an 1870s cottage of various gabled stone and weatherboard elements known as the Old Convent. Incorporating historic, aesthetic, architectural and social significance, it is particularly important as the former home of a convent personally founded by Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. It also forms part of a historic precinct in combination with similar cottages in Anglesea Street and testifies to Arrowtown’s evolution from a mining hamlet to an established township of religious concern.

In July 1872, Henry Stratford was appointed sub-warden to the goldfields. He later became Arrowtown’s first Resident Magistrate. In 1872, Stratford bought land on which he built a two roomed, schist cottage. Rates records indicate a cottage was on site by 1878. The sash windows, symmetry and simplicity of the box cottage evoke the Georgian period.

In 1890, the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin bought the cottage as a presbytery for the assistant to the new parish priest at Queenstown. The Church prospered in the small settlement. So much so that in 1897, Mother Mary MacKillop decided to establish a convent at Arrowtown to run St Joseph’s School. MacKillop had founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, an order which established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australasia.

Arriving in October 1897, MacKillop made part of the school a convent. She left Arrowtown in 1898 with the nuns well established at St Joseph’s Convent School. In 1899, the nuns were given the vacant presbytery as a separate convent. The church soon added two bedrooms on the northern side and another room to the east. Later, a timber room for music lessons was added on the west side. The additions repeated the original gabled structure. In 1943, St Joseph’s Convent School closed and in 1945, the convent on Anglesea Street was closed and sold.

From 1956, Shaw’s Motors Limited housed their mechanics at the cottage, then known as the ‘Golden Terrace’ boarding house. Several alterations were made in the 1950s, including removal of the music room. In 2004, Alan and Kathleen Jenkins acquired the Old Convent and restored it. In 2006, further extensions were made. The project received an award for its ‘intimate stitching of an existing historic cottage and outhouse spaces, resulting in a beautiful eclectic group of spaces’.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Music room removed and relocated

2004 - 2006
Conversion to a single occupancy residence

Original Construction
1872 - 1878

1899 -
Conversion to a convent

Five rooms (including a music room)

1956 -
Conversion to a boarding house

Completion Date

12th March 2014

Report Written By

Susan Irvine

Information Sources

Miller, 1973

F.W.G Miller, Golden Days of Lake County, 5th edn, Christchurch, 1973

Queenstown Courier

Queenstown Courier

Catholic Church in the Wakatipu

Catholic Church in the Wakatipu, Tablet Print, Dunedin, 1963.

Bowman and Reid, 2005

Ian Bowman and Becky Reid, ‘An Inventory of heritage structures in Arrowtown’, Queenstown, Queenstown Lakes District Council, 2005.

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of the NZHPT.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.