Eichardt's Hotel

Ballarat Street And Marine Parade, Queenstown

  • Eichardt's Hotel, Queenstown.
    Copyright: Skyline Enterprises.
  • Eichardt's Hotel, Queenstown.
    Copyright: Skyline Enterprises.
  • Eichardt's Hotel, Queenstown.
    Copyright: Skyline Enterprises.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7439 Date Entered 10th December 1998


City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 13, 14 & pt 15 BLK II, Town of Queenstown

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Queenstown grew rapidly during the early 1860s as a result of the Central Otago goldrushes. Eichardt's Tavern began life as the wooden Queen's Arms Hotel (allegedly constructed from materials from a wooden wool shed), owned by William Rees and managed by well-known policeman Hugh William Bracken. The Queen's Arms was the centre of public life in the rough goldfields township, hosting meetings and the formation of a yacht club, the Wakatipu Jockey Club and the fire brigade.

Albert Eichardt became proprietor in 1866, on the basis of winnings in a gold nugget raffle and sole owner from 1868-69. In time Eichardt's Queen Victoria Hotel came to be known as Eichardt's Hotel Eichardt died in 1882, but his widow, Julia, owned it until 1892. During the early 1870s Eichardt, sensing that quality would win out over the cheaply-built competing establishments, had the hotel rebuilt in masonry to the

design of architect Frederick Burwell James McNeish, whose classic account of New Zealand pubs, Tavern in the Town, devotes an entire chapter to Eichardt's, describes its heyday:

"Eichardt's boasted private apartments, a Blue Room and a Green Room, each with a piano, and became the booking office and terminus for Cobb and Co.'s coaches ... It hired out buggies and brakes and many a courtship began on the drive to Frankton and back. Clergymen were given free lodging and their horses a free feed of chafe".

Julia continued the improvements, replacing the last wooden portion in 1886 and experimenting with electric lighting the same year, illuminating the hotel this was some 30 years before the rest of the town gained this improvement. Anthony Trollope was one of the better-known visitors, greeted by Julia Eichardt on the steps of the hotel. From the 1890s onwards the hotel gained from the growth of the tourist trade, prospering particularly under the ownership of Walter Searle and family between

1899 and 1914.

Tourism became more important to the hotel's business. During the 20th century Eichardt's passed through a variety of hands, the most notable being the Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company 1936-51 and the government-owned Tourist Hotel Corporation 1956-77. During the 20th century it has been modified on several occasions. Nevertheless, government stewardship was poor, with the hotel deteriorating during the 1960s. Eichardt's was downgraded to tavern status in 1970, gaining a cabaret on to. With the withdrawal of the THC in 1977, ownership passed to a local trust.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Eichardt's Hotel today is an eclectically styled building reflecting architectural changes over a 127 year period since the place achieved its basic present form in 1871-86, Two principal styles can be observed in the hotel's facades: (1) Victorian free Classical Style, the major element in the design, and (2) Inter-War Art Deco/Spanish Mission, in a minor decorative form. Style indicators are:

- Symmetrical facade

- Pedimented Portico derived from classical temple front (in 1875, but since removed)

- Parapet concealing roof (originally balustraded)

-Decorative accents on skyline (more prominent in 1875 design, but many features since removed)

- Conventional classical order of architecture (visible on original portico)

- Quoin blocks

- Classical cornice with brackets

- Classical string courses defining ground and first floors

- Ground floor window Gibbs surrounds

- Art Deco motif stepped skyline or silhouette on parapet

- Painted stylised Art Deco window head decoration

- Art Deco/Spanish Mission style arched-opening double doors on first floor balcony

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Hotels played an important part in the history of colonial New Zealand. In the days of slow travel and reliance on horses and steamers, hotels were widely used by travellers as well as by locals for a wide variety of business, community and social activities. As James McNeish observes:

"From the 1840s the pub was (after the gaol) the most important building; the rendezvous for Everyman; his community centre, his coffee house and his social house, his service and his sporting club. The pub came first, giving birth to live theatre in this land, to libraries, militias, Masonic lodges, elections, even parliaments..."

Eichardt's Tavern has a long history (almost 140 years) of trading from an important site in what was originally a very raw goldfields township. The hotel's history, which follows McNeish's model, is well documented and has earned it a prominent place in the history not only of Otago, but also that of New Zealand hotels, McNeish's Tavern in the Town devoting a chapter to it .It can, therefore, be considered to be of considerable regional significance.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:


Eichardt's location near the Lake Wakatipu foreshore placed it at risk from flooding. The worst incident took place in 1878 when record floodwaters swept through the basement, causing the Eichardts to flee to another hotel. According to McNeish, "in Eichardt's it rose above the barman's waist and a boatload of locals rowed in for a drink".


Eichardts Tavern is associated with several prominent people. William Gilbert Rees (1827-98) has been referred to as the 'Father of Queenstown'. Rees's biographer, George Griffiths, described him as "the seigneur of the district". He was a prominent runholder and businessman, gaining the nickname 'King Wakatip'. Albert (1829-82) and Julia (1838-92) Eichardt, like Rees, are included in the 1998 Otago/Southland dictionary of Biography, Southern People. Albert was born in Prussia; he married Julia (nee Shanahan), who had managed the hotel's dining room since 1863. She was as much his business partner as his wife and together they made the hotel the best in town and one of the finest in the province. Albert was also a borough councillor. In addition, the hotel was later operated by two prominent early/mid 20th century tourist operators, the Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company and the Tourist Hotel Corporation.


Not applicable.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

DATE: 1871-75: 1886: 1929: 1956-59.

ARCHITECT: 1871-1886 building, Frederick Burwell, F.R.LBA

[The following extract on Frederick Burwell is from the nomination for Eichardt's Hotel.]

Frederick Burwell was born in Scotland in 1846 where his father was a merchant. His mother was the sister of architect David Ross (1827-1908) who emigrated to Melbourne in 1854, then moved to Dunedin about nine years later. Burwell served his articles in Britain and then moved to New Zealand in his mid-twenties. He arrived in Queenstown in about 1872 and remained until February 1874, when he moved to Invercargill. In 1888 he left New Zealand for Melbourne where he worked sporadically until 1894. In 1896 he joined his uncle, now in Perth, but by 1897 he was working on his own in Fremantle which was going through a boom period. Although his style was by now outdated and less suited to sun-drenched Fremantle, several Burwell buildings in Fremantle have been classified by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Burwell is largely forgotten in New Zealand architecture, despite being largely responsible for the transformation of Invercargill from a temporary frontier town to a thriving commercial centre during the twelve years (1874-1887) he resided there. His work was prolific. In 1877 alone, he completed 39 contracts. He designed mainly commercial premises, although he also designed public buildings, churches and houses throughout Otago and Southland, including most of the since demolished 'Crescent' in Invercargill. On the basis of his work in Invercargill, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in January 1880.

Due to the wide distribution and variety of Frederick Burwell's buildings in Invercargill and Southland, he has been described as "the region's definitive architect" by Jonathan Mane-Wheoki of the University of Canterbury. Many of Burwell's buildings have been demolished, and while his work in Invercargill has been recognised, his role in Queenstown has yet to be acknowledged.

STYLE CODE: Eclectic. 1871-1886 building, Style 7, Victorian Free Classical. 1929 alterations, Style 68, Inter-War Deco, and Style 64, Inter-War Spanish Mission.


Eichardt's Hotel reflects in its design various changes and alterations, both stylistic and constructional, over a 127 year period. Today the place is still nominally the same design that Frederick Burwell created out of brick and stone on the site of the original c.1863 single storey building during the years 1871-1886. However this latter design

is confined now to certain classical details such as the rectangular form of the building, quoins, string courses, cornices, cornice brackets and window architraves. Nothing much appears to be known about the architectural construction and design of the first hotel on the site of Eichardt's. It was known as the Queen's Arms Hotel and was described as a small, one-storey wooden hotel built on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. It does not appear to have been absorbed into the construction of the present hotel building, but it is, interestingly enough, this little hotel that became known as "Eichardt's Hotel" - the name colloquially given to Eichardt's Tavern today - when Albert Eichardt took over the lease in 1866.

Burwell's original design was heavily Neo-Classical in style, with the Doric Order prominent on the Ballarat Street entrance portico where full columns and pilasters defined the facade. Major alterations took place in the period 1929-1936, when the then owner, Donald Murchison, built a new lounge and suite of bedrooms within the hotel. The Art Deco/Spanish Mission modifications to the exterior design of the hotel would have to have taken place during this period since they are of this period. These alterations are visible in the stepped parapets which replaced Burwell's classical parapets with balusters and (on the Marine Parade facade) classical pediment containing the fan shell decoration - the latter now sits within a truncated version of the original pediment minus its tympanum (upper triangular portion of the pediment with decorative urn). The Baroque scrolls that originally abutted this pediment have, however, remained along with the shell. Spanish Mission design elements replaced the classical styled entrance on Ballarat Street with a horseshoe shaped Moorish arch head door on the ground floor, and repetition of this motif on the first floor balcony door which had been created out of one of Burwell's original classical windows. The original balusters and handrail on the roof of the portico were replaced, probably also during the 1929-36 period, with an iron rail of union-jack with circle design.

With regard to the interior of Eichardt's Hotel, nothing appears to remain of Burwell's 1870s interior. The plaster ceiling in the public bar and lobby with garlands of flowers and egg and dart mouldings appears to date from the 1929 refurbishment, and is of some interest as a period piece. The dark wood panelling in these areas would also appear to be part of this period. Apart from these elements however, the interior of Eichardt's appears to have little to recommend it in terms of special or outstanding architectural features, and the emphasis in architectural quality with regard to the place must be seen to reside in the exterior facades.

(m) Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

There are 58 registered hotels and taverns built in the period 1840-1900.

As an essentially classical styled building constructed of brick, stone, concrete and plaster, Eichardt's Hotel, stands comparison best with hotels of the same style and construction built slightly later during the period 1880-1915. Very few of the earlier classically styled buildings from before 1880 are built of stone, and most are of timber and/or brick.

It is clear that in this respect, Eichardt's was originally an impressive and somewhat exceptionally styled hotel for the period in New Zealand during the 1870s, and, in its original form as designed by Frederick Burwell, it compared better than brick and plaster places like the Occidental Hotel in Auckland, 1870, Category I, and the Queens Ferry Hotel, Auckland, built c.1858, Category II. These latter buildings are in fact smaller than Eichardt's Hotel and did not have the advantage of a large exterior surface area to develop a classical theme as Burwell did at Eichardt's. The design and style of Eichardt' s was in fact in the same Victorian Free Style as could originally be seen on Warner's Hotel in Christchurch, 1901, by architect J.C Maddison, Category II. Warner's, once a very impressive classical pile on Cathedral Square with a Corinthian entrance portico and Renaissance Palazzo facades, is substantially worse off today than Eichardt's in terms of alterations over the years, having only the classical main entrance portico left, and over half the rest of the building gone along with its classical detailing.

Against this one has to accept that a fair degree of Frederick Burwell's classical design has disappeared from Eichardt's hotel, as described above. However enough of it remains in the facades to show just how good Burwell was as an architect in the classical genre. This is immensely important to our understanding of Frederick Burwell who is beginning to emerge as an outstanding regional Victorian architect in New Zealand.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1871 -

Completion Date

1st October 1998

Report Written By

Gavin McLean & Wayne Nelson

Other Information

NZIA New Zealand Award Winner 2002, Category: Heritage/Conservation

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office

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.