Gratuity Cottage

9 Gorge Road, Queenstown

  • Gratuity Cottage. Original image submitted at time of registration. June 1991.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: Chris Cochran.
  • Gratuity Cottage. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Google Maps 2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2339 Date Entered 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

The extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 12476 (CT OT5A/1311), Otago Land District, and the building known as Gratuity Cottage thereon.

City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 12476 (CT OT5A/1311), Otago Land District


This small weatherboard cottage built in 1871-1872 is a good representative example of a two-room cottage typical of Queenstown’s gold rush years. It was named ‘Gratuity’ by a former owner in the mid-twentieth century.

By the early 1870s, Queenstown was settling down from the chaos of early gold mining years. Residents moved from canvas tents or shanties into cottages, such as this diminutive building on land at the edge of the settlement. Queenstown builder John Frederic was the first ratepayer for this land in 1870-1871, and he probably built the cottage with milled beech from James Robertson’s sawmill at the head of the lake. Robertson’s mill supplied most of the timber for Queenstown’s early buildings.

The style and small size of the cottage are typical of the 1860s and 1870s. Architect Jeremy Salmond writes that the ‘little wooden cottage of one or two rooms, with a central door and a window either side of the door, remained the basic unit of house design throughout the nineteenth century.’ The building is a simple single-gabled box cottage with a verandah and an external brick chimney. It has two rooms (one living and one bedroom) and a lean-to bathroom.

An 1874 photograph shows the cottage sitting at the edge of the cluster of commercial buildings and residences that had sprung up at the edge of the lake. The cottage sits within a fenced paddock, the boundaries marked by timber fencing.

Thomas Betts paid the rates on this land from 1872 until 1882, renting out the cottage to Edward Canning during this time. Betts died intestate and his estate was sold.

Widow Margaret Gardiner bought the cottage in 1882. The Gardiner family lived across the road from the cottage, on the corner of Turner Street and Skippers Road (now Gorge Road), where Margaret ran a boarding house. The cottage was perhaps a convenient home close to her business. The cottage remained in the Gardiner family until 1948. On Margaret’s death in 1917, she left the cottage to daughter Agnes Gardiner. On Agnes’ death in 1926, the property was transferred to tourist agent James Walter Gardiner and his wife Minnie. Minnie died in 1947 and Gardiner sold the cottage soon after.

Dr Raymond Kirk bought the cottage in November 1948. Kirk named the property ‘Gratuity Cottage’ as the purchase money came from his post-war gratuity of £375. In 1980, John R. McCormack bought the property. When McCormack owned the tiny cottage, it was ironically nick-named ‘Southfork’. McCormack’s initials matched those of J.R. Ewing, a character in the 1980s television series ‘Dallas’, who lived at a grand ranch called Southfork. For many years, the cottage served as a studio and gallery for McCormack.

In 2014, this small cottage is a surviving example of a settler’s cottage, in the otherwise bustling tourist centre of Queenstown.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Frederic, John Augustus

John Frederic was a builder operating in Queenstown in the early 1870s. Frederic and Co. won the tender for the construction of the Arrowtown Post Office and Telegraph Station in December 1871. He was the subject of bankruptcy proceedings in 1872. Little else is known about him.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1871 - 1872

Completion Date

18th March 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.

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.