Off Plumb Cottage

38 Caernarvon Street, Arrowtown

  • Off Plumb Cottage. Original image submitted at time of registration. September 1992.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: John Moore.
  • Off Plumb Cottage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Susan Irvine. Date: 22/08/2013.
  • Off Plumb Cottage showing sleep out behind cottage .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Susan Irvine. Date: 22/08/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2112 Date Entered 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 12438 (CT OT4D/283), Otago Land District and the building known as Off Plumb Cottage thereon.

City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 12438 (CT OT4D/283), Otago Land District


Set in historic Caernarvon Street, this humble 1870s timber cottage stands as a physical testament to Arrowtown’s earliest settlers. ‘Off Plumb Cottage’, as it is known, is not remarkable architecturally; however, it has high aesthetic values and demonstrates the efforts of those who transformed an untouched wilderness into a livelihood that sustained their families and a township. Cottages such as this contribute to the heritage character of Arrowtown, one of New Zealand’s best-preserved gold mining towns.

Joseph Barker, draper, purchased the land on the corner of Kent and Caernarvon Streets in 1873. The cottage was built by 1878 when the rates records show Barker living in a weatherboard house. The cottage probably contained four rooms and had a symmetrical rectangular plan, two rooms wide, with a central front door. The salt box styling with a medium pitched roof, rectangular symmetry and simplicity of architecture evokes the Georgian period. The addition of the ‘broken back verandah’ is a local architectural variation.

By 1885, rates records show James Hamilton living in the cottage. The Hamilton family occupied Off Plumb Cottage for the next 85 years. Arriving in Invercargill in 1863, by 1866 James and Mary Hamilton were in Miller’s Flat, about five kilometres from Arrowtown. Their farm there was about 67 acres and their four roomed wooden cottage was home to the couple and their 12 children. In 1884, James was bankrupted - home, land, cattle, machinery, furniture and clothing was sold to pay creditors. By the mid-1880s, the Hamiltons were starting again and renting Off Plumb Cottage. James died c1889. In 1891, Mary married James Reid of Reidhaven: prominent early settler, and Arrowtown mayor. She also bought Off Plumb Cottage.

In 1918, the cottage passed to Alexander Brown Hamilton (-1940), Mary and James’ son, and his wife Annie (nee Cotter). In 1927, the Cotter family cottage was damaged by fire. Two undamaged rooms were removed and added to the rear of Off Plumb Cottage. In 1957, ownership transferred to their son Alexander Richard Hamilton. In 1970, the cottage finally passed from Hamilton family hands.

In 1971, the cottage became a holiday home. By then it contained two bedrooms and an open plan living area. The remains of the Cotter cottage were used as a bathroom and storeroom. In 2003, a covered corridor was added to connect the cottage with the outbuildings.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1927 -
Two rooms added to the rear as outhouses

2003 -
Cottage and rear outbuildings attached by narrow corridor addition

Sleep out added

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

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 Regoinal 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.