New City Hotel
527-533 Colombo St, Christchurch
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
26th November 1981
Lots 4-5 DP 995 Lot 32 DP 53 Subj to & with int in R/W
Constructed in 1930, the New City Hotel on the corner of 527 Colombo Street and Bath Street, Christchurch, has architectural and aesthetic significance as a large Moderne styled building designed by John Steele Guthrie and historical and social significance as the last traditional hotel operating within the central city.
The City Hotel was established on the ‘triangle’ at the intersection of High and Colombo Streets in 1864 by J. G. Ruddenklau. In 1929 the City Hotel licence was purchased by Ballin Brothers, a prominent Christchurch-based brewing and soft-drink business. In 1930 Ballins’ closed the City Hotel and transferred the licence to the New City Hotel, a new and larger building on a new site at the corner of Colombo and Bath Streets. The architect, J. S. Guthrie, was heavily influenced by trends in American architecture and he designed the New City Hotel in the Moderne style, a variant of Art Deco. Under the ownership of the New City Hotel Company and the proprietorship of W. J. Blake, the building was open for guests from 27 December 1930 and was described as being ‘thoroughly up-to-date, [with] hot and cold water in every bedroom…’. It was considered notable at the time that the building was constructed entirely of ‘Empire products’, a likely first in New Zealand.
Situated in a prominent corner location on the corner of Colombo and Bath Streets, the building has three storeys above ground and a basement. Constructed of reinforced concrete, the New City Hotel is notable for its streamlined Moderne design. Features include the rounded north-east corner, unadorned planar facades, horizontal orientation, and large steel casement windows. On the interior, a number of original fixtures and fittings survive, including the main staircase, timber panelling and room service buttons.
The northern ground floor façade of the building underwent modification in the early 1990s as part of a refit of the bar. The building suffered some damage in the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11 and received a restoration grant from the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund as recognition that it was an intact heritage hotel building that survived the quakes. Other notable examples of the Moderne style in Christchurch had included the former M.E.D. building and the former Millers Department Store, both of which have been demolished following the 2010-11 earthquakes. The New City Hotel continues to operate as a hotel, with a bar, gaming area and hairdresser on the ground floor, and rooms for short and long-term accommodation on the first and second floors.
John Steele Guthrie
Architect of the New City Hotel, Christchurch - 1930
Main contractor on the New City Hotel, Christchurch - 1930
Modification of ground floor façade
8th June 2017
Report Written By
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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.