Fox Glacier Hotel

11 Cook Flat Road, Fox Glacier

  • Fox Glacier Hotel. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 8/06/2016.
  • Fox Glacier Hotel. Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 8/06/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5045 Date Entered 21st September 1989


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 3251 (CT WS8B/685), Westland Land District and the building known as Fox Glacier Hotel thereon. Other buildings on the land parcel are not included in the extent. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 30 April 2015.

City/District Council

Westland District


West Coast Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 3251 (CT WS8B/685), Westland Land District


The construction of Fox Glacier Hotel in 1928 helped to put South Westland on the tourist map and it is now the only remaining example of the original tourist hotels of the spectacular glacier region.

Awareness and publicity of the beauty and splendour of the longest of the awe-inspiring New Zealand West Coast glaciers, Fox Glacier, came relatively late in the national programme of promoting scenic tourist attractions. While international adventurers and visitors had admired the beauties of the glacier country for many decades, it was not until the 1920s that active steps were taken to promote Westland as the scenic wonderland of New Zealand. Pioneering Weheka (Fox Glacier township) farming family, the Sullivans, initially accommodated visitors in their large timber homestead until eventually an increase in visiting government officials, prospectors and tourists overstretched their resources. Accordingly, in around 1926, John and Mick Sullivan decided that it was time to build a separate hostelry. A sawmill was established, trees cut and milled and building took place throughout 1928.

Constructed of timber, with concrete foundations, weatherboard walls and corrugated steel roof, the main hotel building is two storeyed with a covered balcony flanked by projecting wings on the main, north-facing, elevation. At the time of its opening, newspaper reports hailed the commodious two-storeyed building with its 40 bedrooms capable of accommodating about 100 people, four parlours, offices, large dining room and commodious kitchen which operated both with electricity and with coal or wood fires. Electricity was supplied from the hotel’s own small power generating plant, installed by the Sullivans, which was an innovation new to the area at that time.

Construction of the hotel was followed by the commencement of official guided tours to the Fox Glacier, approximately six kilometres away. The Sullivans employed some very well-known New Zealand mountaineers, including Henry Ayres and Frank Alack. Over the years, the Fox Glacier Hotel has provided accommodation for the night for large numbers of climbers and adventurers from all corners of the world. From the early days, staff members were housed in a separate building, and a garage and separate billiard room had also been constructed. The original hotel building has been extended and altered over time, including a large addition to the south-eastern rear in the early 1950s and further extensions flanking the main façade in the mid 1950s and 1960s. Significant refurbishment took place at first floor level of the main building during 2007 and further work has been carried out in the 2010s. There is a range of separate buildings on the land parcel that relate to the hotel complex, not included in the List entry extent, including two concrete buildings constructed in around 1985.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

John and Mick Sullivan

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1928 -

1952 -
Extension to south-east side of hotel

1954 -
Wing added to west end of north front

Wing added to east end of north front

2007 -
Refurbishment of first floor of main hotel building

Completion Date

26th March 2015

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Other Information

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 Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand