1771 Glenorchy-Paradise Road, Glenorchy

  • Paradise House and Accommodation Wing, north and east elevations.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Jonathan Howard. Date: 1/12/2007.
  • Paradise and Pink Cottage, north elevations.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Jonathan Howard. Date: 1/12/2007.
  • Paradise from the track to Garden of Eden..
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Jonathan Howard. Date: 1/12/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7766 Date Entered 27th June 2008


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes the land described as Secs 30- 32, Block II Dart District (CT OT91/128), Otago Land District, and the buildings and grounds associated with Paradise thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information). The following structures are included in the registration: Eden Grove (Paradise House) and Accommodation Wing; Pink Cottage; The School House; The Big Cottage; Barn and Stables; Garden of Eden Cottage; The Annexe; Bushveldt Huts; and the gardens and surrounding grounds which were an essential part of Paradise. The registration includes a representative portion of the surrounding Beech forest as significant curtilage.

City/District Council

Queenstown-Lakes District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 30-32 Blk II Dart District, (CT OT91/128), Otago Land District

Location description

Paradise is located around 16 kilometres north of Glenorchy, the small settlement located at the head of Lake Wakatipu, in the Queenstown district. Paradise sits in a valley between Mt Earnslaw and Mt Alfred, near to Diamond Lake, and both the Rees and Dart Rivers.


[On 23 May 2014, the homestead at Paradise was destroyed by fire. Paradise Trust has established a website for Friends of Paradise and others interested in helping get Paradise back on its feet after the devastating loss -!about/c10fk ].

Paradise is located around 16 kilometres from Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown district. Paradise House and its associated structures and grounds, date from the mid 1880s through into the twentieth century. They relate to the operation of Paradise House as a tourist accommodation house from prior to 1890 onwards.

Paradise House, originally known as Eden Grove, was designed by New Zealand's first architect William Mason as his rural retreat in 1883. From the mid 1880s to the early 1940s Paradise House was operated as a tourist guest house by the Aitken family, and provided the base for perhaps thousands of people's experiences of the remote wilderness surrounding the House. The Aitkens ceased operating Paradise House around 1943. The Veints, its new owners, continued its operation as a guest house until 1949, when it was bought by the Miller family. The Millers used Paradise House as a private dwelling, but continued to accommodate visitors at Paradise, where they camped or stayed in the various cottages and huts around the property. On David Miller's death in 1998, a nationwide appeal was launched for a new owner, which caused much excitement and attention. The property was subsequently transferred to the Paradise Trust, which continues to administer Paradise in 2008.

Through its whole operation Paradise was linked with the surrounding wilderness. The House was part of a network on the physical landscape, linking to the mountain tracks up the Rees, up the Dart, to the Routeburn and Te Anau, and back towards Glenorchy and Queenstown. Paradise House and its owners, particularly the Aitkens for the fifty or so years they welcomed guests, provided a safe haven for exploration of the wilds. The host's warmth and welcome was memorable and there were many who returned year after year. This continuity of ownership and experience is a vital part of the heritage of Paradise House, and its place in history of the Head of the Lake region.

The history of Paradise provides an insight into life at the Head of the Lake, dependent on the steamer services, isolated and wild. It is a history of the boom time of early tourism, in an area that remained largely undeveloped. The isolation and the rugged scenery were a vital part of the tourist experience, and provided many people an accessible experience of a wilderness environment, perhaps an early type of eco-adventure tourism on a family scale.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Historically Paradise House provides a special insight into the development of tourism in a remote location in the nineteenth century, and early twentieth century. It has its contemporary equivalents in places such as The Glacier Hotel at Kinloch which operated from the 1870s onward, and Glade House at the Head of Lake Te Anau, which opened in 1896. It is part of a network of places visited by tourists from both New Zealand and abroad which were isolated in a way it is difficult to conceive of now, with our infrastructure of road, rail and air travel. Paradise was part of a network of tracks and trails: through the mountains to Glade House and Te Anau, down river to Glenorchy and Kinloch. There were also routes to the surrounding valleys: up the Dart and Rees, and also up to the surrounding peaks - to Mt Alfred, Turret Head and Mt Earnslaw to name but a few. The guest house operation existed at a time before widespread commercialisation, and has special significance as part of this early family run tourism business.


Paradise is located in a valley between Mt Earnslaw and Mt Arthur and close to the braided river valleys of the Rees and Dart Rivers. Paradise itself sits next to native beech forest. The outstanding natural setting has been commented upon since William Mason settled there, and indeed he chose the setting for its landscape qualities. Visitors since have recognised the beauty of the setting.


Paradise has architectural significance as a group of buildings illustrating the operation of a late nineteenth century through to mid-twentieth century guest house operation. Paradise House itself is significant as architect William Mason's final design before his death.


Paradise has social significance. From the late nineteenth century until the 1950s Paradise provided a home away from home for local and international visitors to this isolated area. Paradise House and the associated buildings formed the infrastructure central to the visitors' experiences. Paradise House provided a social gathering place for tourists and the surrounding community. The smaller buildings have also been used for accommodation. The experience of camping has also been socially significant, with outdoor education groups using Paradise as a venue for over twenty years.

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

Paradise has an outstanding association with the story of tourism in New Zealand. Paradise was part of what became known as the 'Cold Lakes' tour of the South Island, and attracted international visitors from the 1890s, along with other places such as the Hermitage at Mt Cook, and Hanmer Springs in Canterbury. The national and international story of Paradise is remarkable given the isolation of the area, and the significant effort required getting there. Tourism is an important story in the history of New Zealand, and Paradise tells a special part of that story.

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

Paradise has an association with architect William Mason, known as New Zealand's first 'colonial architect.' Architect William Mason was the first architect to live and practice in New Zealand. Mason was first mayor of Dunedin during this period and an important figure in the Dunedin community Paradise House was Mason's rural retreat, picked for its outstanding location. He lived there from 1883 until the early 1890s.

From the mid 1880s Paradise House was associated with the development of tourism in the Queenstown Lakes area, and can be considered an outstanding example of such a business. The Aitken's hospitality and guiding ventures to the outstanding natural landscape which surrounded the house is a direct fore-runner of the kind of ecotourism that developed in the twentieth century.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

Paradise has a strong association with the local community. For many families it has been a place where generations have stayed in cabins or camped. There are also significant links with the wider community, including the use of Paradise as an outdoor education venue.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:

Paradise is outstandingly significant as a rare surviving example of an early Boarding House in an isolated area which provided accommodation for tourists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The story of Paradise is an outstanding one of its type, particularly given the accompanying archival record, which includes Visitors' Books for most of its period of operation.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The heritage of Paradise goes beyond the physical building. Guests stayed in the buildings, and as such they are a tangible reminder of the hundreds of people who stayed there, and the families who ran the business, as well as a link to the development of the tourism industry at the Head of the Lake. Visitors came to the region to experience the isolation of mountain landscapes, to climb, to walk, and to otherwise commune with nature. Paradise provided a safe haven from the wilds. The Aitkens, and later the Veints, operated a warm and hospitable establishment. The grounds surrounding the house, and the pathways through the beech forest were as much part of Paradise as the guest house. The importance of the landscapes - both the intimate network of paths and tracks, and the raw beauty and majesty of the surrounding mountains is clear from visitors' descriptions, illustrated by the guided excursions provided by the Aitkens.


This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, e, j, and k.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

Paradise is of special significance as an example of an early tourist operation set amidst spectacular scenery which developed in the later nineteenth century. It is a pioneering example of such an operation and its history reveals much about the operation of such a place during the early period. As a forerunner of what would develop into ecotourism in the later twentieth century it is of outstanding significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mason, William

Mason had been in New Zealand for 20 years when he first set up as an architect in the gold mining boom town of Dunedin in 1862. He had been an official under Governor Hobson and was a respected Member of Parliament. He designed the old Post Office building which became the Exchange Building, the former Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of New South Wales - all now demolished. He also designed the 1864 Exhibition building which became part of the Dunedin Hospital. Mason had retired briefly in the late 1860s but returned to work with Wales (1871-1874) and during this time designed Bishopscourt and the extension to All Saints. He then retired to live at Glenorchy.

In 1863 William Mason took W H Clayton into partnership and formed Mason and Clayton. Buildings designed by Mason and Clayton (while Clayton was in Dunedin) included All Saints Church, Edinburgh House, the Bank of New South Wales on Princess Street and the old Provincial Chambers. Of these only All Saints Church remains.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative


The Wakatipu and Head of the Lake area are important for Ngai Tahu. There are a number of recorded archaeological sites relating to Maori occupation in the vicinity of Paradise and Diamond Lake. The sites of occupation were evident in the Dart River area to Pakeha travellers who were guided to the area by Maori who knew it.

European explorers and pastoralists became aware of the Wakatipu in the mid 1850s. In 1857-1858, the first Pakeha made it to the Head of the Lake. In 1860 William Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelman established their pastoral run on the edge of Lake Wakatipu where Queenstown would later develop.

The scenic grandeur of the area was noted by the Otago Witness: the Lakes would be 'extensively visited for the mere purpose of viewing the grandeur of the scene.' The influx of people following the gold rushes in the early 1860s changed the nature of the area forever: within months Queenstown developed as a township. By the 1870s there was recognition of the tourist appeal of the Wakatipu area, and the need for accommodation.'

The history of Paradise House is related to the development of tourism in the Queenstown area. Before the development of a transport infrastructure physical isolation ensured that the number of visitors to the whole district was low. Lake Wakatipu, with its connections initially to Kingston and Invercargill provided the main communication link with the outside world.

In the 1870s tourists were few in number, largely of local origin, and little catered for. By this time, however, there was talk in the local paper about tourists and a tourist season. Paradoxically, there was a reduction in the quantity of hotels and accommodation, as the gold-miners moved out of the district to the West Coast gold rushes. The number of hotels decreased from twenty in 1866 to twelve by the early 1880s. The hotels that were left were now vying for business for the travelling public. Part of the competition was offering special services such as guides and horses, including trips to the Head of the Lake. By the mid 1870s tourists were staying at Kinloch at Bryant's Glacier Hotel, with Bryant letting out rooms, and providing meals and a guiding service for visitors.

The Queenstown area, promoted as the Cold Lakes and Glacial District of Otago, became part of the wider national and international tourist circuit both in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It was the rather colder equivalent of the Hot Lakes District in the North Island. By 1875 tourists from Europe and the United States, as well as Australia, visited New Zealand. Status oriented classes were looking for more distant and less public resorts. Generally tourists were wealthy, and in the 1880s were characterised by health and pleasure seekers. The Southern Lakes were included in tourist brochures along side other attractions such as Te Aroha Hot Springs, Rotorua, Hanmer Springs, Te Anau and the Southern Alps with Hermitage and Mt Cook. Accommodation houses were built in some isolated areas to provide for tourists. Other significant local examples include Glade House (built 1896 at the Head of Lake Te Anau), and the Hermitage Accommodation House (the first building constructed 1884 at Mt Cook). Both of these were later taken over by the Government. Paradise was also to become part of the tourist circuit.

The North and South Island tourist areas benefited from the expansion of rail and the improved communications. On 10 July 1878 Lake Wakatipu was linked by 490 miles of rail to Amberley via Dunedin and Invercargill. With the Dunedin and Invercargill rail links extending to Kingston, and the ability to connect with shipping services, Steamer links to Glenorchy, and transport to Paradise House provided the essential rhythm of life for staff and guests.

Shipping on Lake Wakatipu was also vital to business at the Head of the Lake. Shipping was a lucrative business, with up to four companies operating on the Lake. Steamer excursions 'infused a good deal more life into this otherwise quiet village.' During the summer months tourist traffic was busy 'since the weekend trips were inaugurated hundreds of people have had the opportunity of viewing this region...where not even tens had seen it before.' The Gardiner's Reliable Tourist's Guide to Wakatipu District and Lakes reported that steaming time was three hours.

The Head of the Lake became the scenic attraction with the building of the first hotel at Glenorchy in 1880. For the majority of visitors it was a day excursion. The exceptions were those who wished to climb Mt Earnslaw, or who favoured a longer visit in the area. Glenorchy was also a service centre for scheelite mining. The mineral was first mined at Mt Juda in the 1880s.


What is now known as Paradise House was designed by William Mason as a rural retreat in the 1880s. Mason was renowned as New Zealand's first architect. He had a rich and successful career that started in England and Australia and saw him become a significant figure in the development of New Zealand architecture.

William Mason's first wife's nephew, Joseph Fenn, had taken land up at Paradise Flat. Mason was charmed by the area and had taken up sections and built a house for Kate, his second wife. In 1883 he built the house, now known as Paradise House, which he called ‘Eden Grove.' Its name alluded to the site, but Mason had also owned a house of that name in Auckland. Eden Grove was a four-roomed house built on a slightly elevated site, facing Diamond Lake, with a distant view of Rees Valley. The site had half mile frontages to the Dart River, and was only a short distance from Diamond Lake.

When Mason had been living in the house for a couple of months he had a visitor who recorded his experience. In early summer 1884, Auckland artist Charles Blomfield was caught in a thunderstorm, and made for a small house in the distance, Mason's cottage. He provides a description of the interior:

‘On receiving a kind instruction to enter I saw at once that this was something more than a shepherd's hut or runholder's shanty. The house was well built and furnished with grace and comfort; handsome pictures hung on the walls, and a well stocked library filled up one side of the room. Feeling surprised at such signs of refinement in a place so far from civilisation, and no doubt showing my surprise on my face, I soon learned that the owner of the house was Mr Mason, a retired architect, who has chosen this spot for his summer home.'

On the walls Mason hung pictures drawn and painted by him, and set in order the walnut veneer furniture which he had brought out from England. After a few years of farming Mason decided to open up Paradise grounds and home as a tourist resort. In 1885 David Aitken and his wife moved into the staff cottage (probably what has become known as ‘The Pink Cottage' built to accommodate the Aitkens), and Mason began to farm more seriously. He sewed English grasses, he brought in Southdown sheep, and had cattle brought up on the steamer. He imported a Brahma cock from England, and kept pigs and turkeys. The farming suffered a setback when the Aitken's took up land in nearby Rees Valley.

Seeing the developing tourist trade, Mason conceived of the idea of Eden Grove becoming a guest house, and added on fifteen bedrooms. The Harris' replaced the Aitkens and ran the guest house for two years, until David Aitken returned in 1890. When the Aitkens took over the house had 15 bedrooms, accommodating 60 people.

The Aitken family were the centre for life in Paradise for fifty years. David Aitken (1840-1928) was born in Cowdenbeath, Fife, in Scotland. He left Scotland for Dunedin in 1861 following his brother. He travelled on board the Pladda. After working in Dunedin for a short time, he joined the gold rush to Skippers.

Jane Bartlett was born in 1859 in North Devon. She left England in 1876 bound for Adelaide. She did not like Adelaide, and came to Port Chalmers where she had an aunt. She met a couple while travelling to Queenstown, who had been asked to find a nursery governess for the manager of the Bank of New Zealand in Queenstown. She married David Aitken in 1879. Following their marriage they spend six years at Skippers, and two of the children were born there: James in 1880 and Isabella in 1882. In 1885 they moved to the Head of the Lake to take up the position of married couple at the Mason's country home.

After the Aitkens had been with Mason for three years they took up land in Rees Valley; John (Jack) Aitken was born in Rees Valley in 1890. In 1890 Mrs Mason asked the Aitkens to return to Eden Grove, offering them the lease on the accommodation house with an option to purchase. Mason's poor health forced him to move to Queenstown where he stayed at Eichardts Hotel for a time. In 1894 the Mason's returned to Dunedin. Mason died there in 1897.


David and Jane (Jeannie) Aitken ran Paradise House together from around 1890 until David died in 1928. Their children were valuable helpers in the daily operation, with daughter Isabella (Poppy) taking over operation of the house with her mother, after the death of David Aitken. Members of the Aitken family ran the guest house operation from 1890 until 1943.

The Aitkens were noted for their hospitality and their hard work. David Aitken and the children guided their guests on their wilderness expeditions. Jack Aitken was associated with the New Zealand Alpine Club. The family's local knowledge was very important. The girls also guided tourist parties, often preferring the outside work to the indoor tasks.

The Aitken women were vital in the running of Paradise. Jeannie Aitken was by all accounts a remarkable person. Grand-daughter-in-law Barbara Heffernan describes her as ‘upstanding', someone who ‘thought nothing of work', and who had been in valleys where no other woman had gone. Daughter Isabella Heffernan, who took over the House after her father's death, was said to have ‘taken on more than her fair share of the management of the business.' In addition to her domestic duties, and the ‘conduct of the post and telegraph bureau' she also did a ‘considerable amount of guiding work.' She was known as a remarkable horsewoman, and was one of the first women to climb Turret Head. She also conveyed the passengers to and from Glenorchy. She was a ‘genial personality and gained the love and esteem of hosts of friends amongst tourists as well as the local population.' Unlike the rest of the population ‘she never had the privilege of taking a holiday; she actually died in harness.'

Reading the pages of the Visitors Books the Aitkens become a larger than life presence. Their openness, humour, and sheer ability to make people feel part of the family made a stay at Paradise House a memorable experience, a special place in an outstanding landscape. There were many return visitors who recalled their experiences with fondness.

The road to Glenorchy was Paradise's physical connection to the outside world. The steamer docked at Glenorchy, and visitors availed themselves of the services of the town. Gardiner stated that Glenorchy ‘abounds with scenery of every description and the accommodation provided will be found to be first class.' There are ‘many easy and pleasing trips, with very little expense...bush abounding on every side and some first class shooting.' A service industry grew up providing accommodation, excursions, and guiding to the surrounding mountains. As the area grew in popularity, provision of transport to Paradise became an important part of the local economy.

The expedition to Diamond Lake and Paradise took two and a half hours by buggy. On the way the extent of development was evident: ‘several farms testify to the presence of settlers, drawn, no doubt by the fertile soil and such a picturesque neighbourhood, as is scarcely to be found elsewhere.' The guide asserted that when the magnificent scenery became better known ‘the stream of tourists now visiting the district yearly from all parts of the world will be increased tenfold.'

The ‘travelling Scotsman' George Moore provides a description of the buggy ride to Paradise from Glenorchy:

‘We drove for 8 miles along the side of this valley, known as Rees Flat, and presently came to a river bed, Rees River. The bed was a quarter of a mile wide but to-day the river is confined to four distinct courses, between which you have the river bed dry and we had another experience of driving through rivers. At the deepest one, and most swift flowing of the lot...I saw the dog who was swimming, being carried down a hundred yards from where he entered. I told young Wilson to watch it. ‘Oh!' he says to satisfy us, ‘If I think it is too high, I will take one of the horses out and ride across and if the horse doesn't float it is all right.' This was very assuring you may guess, but I said nothing. However he said when he came to it that he had crossed often when it was higher and away he whipped the two horses, keeping their heads upstream and having some experience now, I kept looking at the opposite bank and the horses struggled through it.....After this is was all right and two miles further on we entered a beautiful avenue of lovely beech trees, of great height and so fresh a foliage that we all burst forth into praise of them. Ferns etc. lined the banks and the road was littered with decayed leaves. It was more than a mile long and then we came to the Gate of Heaven, but it was only an ordinary gate after all.'

The trip through the landscape, the journey narrated by the buggy driver led tourists into a kind of mythical place, passing through Heaven's Gate and over the River Jordan into Paradise. The descriptions and language set the scene for their experiences at Paradise House. Guests enjoyed the word play, and continued the themes in the Visitors Books, commenting on their stay, and their walks around the property to other divine places such as the Rock of Ages and the Garden of Eden.


‘O Paradise, O Paradise

Thou house of champion eaters

How lovely are thy snow capped crags

Thy sandflies, without skeeters

How lovely too thy lakes of blue

Thy rocks, thy ferns and beaches

Thy Aitkens and the housemaid too

And Jim the groom in breeches

I would that I could ever dwell

In thy peaceful shade and silence

Where the charges only are per day

A paltry five and fi-pence

Farewell ye hills and Diamond Lake

Ye rocks and snow resplendent

I leave ye all to come again

For ‘Poppies' smiles transcendent

Then farewell O Paradise, farewell

There's nought about thee flimsy

Millie and I would like to stay

But - want to go back to Jim'sy'

Tourists visiting Paradise were enthralled by the scenery. The Visitors Books are full of superlatives describing the mountains, the lakes, the weather, the sand flies, the food, and other guests, everything except physical details of the Guest House itself. Describing the buildings is more difficult: there are few historical descriptions.

Guide Books provide some mention. Gardiner described Mr Aitken's accommodation house as an ‘excellent every respect.' Advertisements for Paradise House note that the proprietor had ‘made considerable additions to his House, affording ample accommodation for visitors wishing for a quiet holiday amongst Forest, Lake and Mountain scenery of beauty unsurpassed.' The rates were 30s per week, or 6s per day. George Moore describes the Aitken's ‘pretty little white cottage with its tidily trimmed hedges of New Zealand fir ‘micacarpa' cropped till they look like green walls.' Moore also describes the living area and bedrooms of the House as ‘nice, clean and comfortable looking and we have a nice sitting room, well supplied with books.' Some time after 1910 the roof of the homestead was remodelled and extended to the edge of the guest wing roof. The pitch was raised and the roof form changed to double hipped. The kitchen area was probably extended at this time too.

The Annexe was possibly built in the 1890s, with a tourist guide of that time noting that the David Aitken's had ‘made considerable additions to his House.' The front annexe was also where the boys of the family used to stay. Mary Aitken noted that Professor A.C. Strong of the Home Science Department used to stay in the end room nearest the main house along with her companion and her small dog, for six weeks every summer over a period of twenty years. All that remains now is a concrete pad, the room being removed by the Millers.

As the family and the community expanded, further accommodation was built. The Big Cottage was, according to Mary Aitken, built for Jack Aitken and his wife to live in when they got married, perhaps around 1912.

The Garden of Eden was an opening in the bush a few minutes walk from Paradise House. In 1914 the Garden of Eden Cottage was built to house the Ross family. Family members worked at the Sheelite mines on Paradise land. After the Rosses left there were various tenants for varying periods. In Barbara Heffernan's early years there a fence surrounded the cottage, and an apple tree flourished in the garden. Mary and Brian Aitken stayed there when they were first married. The house was also used as temporary accommodation for miners until the huts were built on the far edge of the property next to the mine around World War II. A Delco generator was installed in 1918 providing light and power to the house. Much of the wiring in the house seems to date from this time.


Physical Description

This description is drawn from Jackie Gillies 'Paradise Conservation Plan.' :


Paradise is located around 16 kilometres north of Glenorchy on the Glenorchy-Paradise Road, at the head of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown region of Otago. The immediate surrounding land is a mix of pasture and outstanding wilderness areas, with another notable homestead 'Arcadia' nearby. Paradise is located on a wide flat river terrace facing north, looking up the Dart Valley with the Humboldt Mountains to the left and the Forbes Mountains to the right. Paradise sits in the valley between Mount Alfred and Mt Earnslaw, with Diamond Lake to the south. The braided river valleys of the Dart and Rees are also close by. Paradise sits in a clearing at the eastern edge of a stand of Beech forest which provides an important historic and landscape context. There is pastoral land to the east of Paradise. The structures associated with Paradise sit in grassed clearings in the Beech Forest. A network of tracks runs through the forest.

Approaching from the south along the Glenorchy Road the gravel drive approaches the Paradise from the east. The house sits on cleared grassed land at the edge of Beech forest.

Eden Grove/Paradise House (and Guest Wing):

[On 23 May 2014, the homestead at Paradise was destroyed by fire.]

For ease of description, Eden Grove is used to refer to the first portion of the house; the Guest Wing refers to the first structure used to house visitors, and together the accommodation facilities are known as Paradise House.

The part of Paradise House originally called Eden Grove is approximately square in plan, with the main elevation east facing. The house is set in what are clearly the remains of a planned garden, with espaliered fruit trees, hop vines and raspberry canes still evident. The front door was approached along a wide garden path bordered by espaliered fruit trees and flowers. It has a hipped corrugated iron roof. The main elevation has a central front door, flanked by symmetrically placed two-pane double hung sash windows. A verandah runs along two sides of the house. The west elevation has two windows and a chimney. The south elevation has a lean-to kitchen with an external door.

The walls are clad in painted ship lapped weatherboards. The front door on the east elevation is four panelled with mouldings, a wide sill and glazed fanlight. There is a large cast iron knocker with a cherub/Pan figure.

On entering the house the central corridor has doors off to either side. The hall is divided into two with an entrance lobby at the front. Doors are four panelled cedar in cedar frames and were originally varnished. On the left is what was called the 'Smoking Room', and on the right the parlour. Both front rooms have open fires with timber fire surrounds. The walls are lined with tongue and groove panelling, as are the ceilings. The timber was originally varnished. The stone chimney breast of the Smoking Room was enclosed to create two storage cupboards and a new room (a bathroom in the 1920s). A door leads from this space into the dining room.

The hall opens into a large room which served as the dining room; there is a sunroom with external access to the right. The kitchen and laundry are located through a door on the west wall of the dining room. The kitchen in Mason's original home appears to have been relocated or expanded several times. By 1900 it appears to have been roughly in its present position.

To the left of the dining room is a door which leads to a corridor providing internal access to the Guest Wing. The Guest Wing was added when Mason decided to change the home to a guest house, and was originally separate from the house. The Guest Wing is located c.2m away to the south of the Eden Grove. The addition is clad in wide rusticated weatherboards with two-pane double hung sash windows. Decorative timber brackets supported the gutter. Eden Grove and the Guest Wing were separate buildings and were connected after the original construction.

The Guest Wing is on the south elevation, and is a long single storey addition which housed the guest accommodation, and was built in two stages. The second stage of the addition (six single bedrooms) is matched to the original in detail and style. It is a gable structure with moulded four-panelled door and fanlight to the south at the end of the corridor. The join to the first guest wing at the corridor was trimmed with full height moulded timber detailing. The join to the house was first achieved with a low pitched roof tucked under the eaves of each building. The Guest Wing is made up of eleven rooms. There are eight bedrooms, and three toilets, a storage room and a bathroom.


The Annexe is located to the east of Paradise House. It was built to create more guest accommodation. It is located on the site of an earlier building, which may have been incorporated into the Annexe (but this has not been ascertained). The Annexe is a long thin single-storey building comprising a number of rooms connected by a verandah along one side. Originally it had five double bedrooms but today only two rooms remain as bedrooms, one is a bathroom, one a kitchen and the last room has been removed to create an open covered space.

The roof is corrugated iron. The walls are clad in wide rusticated weatherboards. Each room has two windows, each one being a four-pane double hung window, and one door opening out onto the verandah. The doors are four-panelled. The verandah is concrete. Internally the floors are tongue and groove, painted or varnished. In the two remaining bedrooms, the walls are clad in wallpaper with a 1920s design on Hessian scrim. Both bedrooms have fireplaces with simple fire surrounds and mantelpieces.

The biggest alteration has been the removal of the end room and its conversion to open space for car parking, and the conversion of two of the bedrooms into a kitchen and bath room. The work was carried out in David Miller's time.


The Pink Cottage is located immediately to the west of Paradise House and faces north. It is small colonial style cottage with a lean-to addition to the south and west elevations. The Cottage has a central door, flanked by two symmetrically placed windows on its north elevation. There is a small porch over the front door. The cottage is clad and roofed with vertical corrugated iron. The original portion has sliding four-paned sash windows. The Cottage originally consisted of a two roomed gabled section with a lean-to at the rear. Only the front section remains with rear and side additions made in the 1950s. The front door opens into the parlour. The parlour has access to a bedroom on the right, and small hallway straight ahead. The hall provides access to the second bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The original fireplace in the parlour has been replaced with a wood burner, and the opening and chimney modified. The floors of the original portion are tongue and groove timber. The walls and ceilings are clad in Pinex over wallpaper, Hessian scrim and Rimu sarking. There are moulded architraves.

The 1950s additions are largely intact. The addition comprises a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen as well as the hall. The floor is concrete. All walls and ceilings, except for the kitchen and bathroom, are clad with Pinex. In the kitchen and bathroom the walls are clad in hardboard.


The Big Cottage was built in 1912. It is located at the opposite end of the river terrace to Paradise House and faces south. It is grander in scale than the Pink Cottage. It has the tall windows and eaves, and high ceilings, a raised verandah and wide weatherboards typical of the Edwardian period.

The Big Cottage is roughly square in plan, with gables to the east and west elevations and a verandah along the front elevation. The exterior is clad in wide rusticated weatherboards with square corner trims. The roof is painted corrugated iron. All windows are four-pane double hung windows. The front door is four panelled, with half glazed side panels and fanlights. The side panels are glazed with coloured glass and the fanlights in frosted glass.

There is a lean-to addition on the north, clad in ship lap weatherboards. There is a small outhouse at the rear of the cottage.

The front door leads to a generous hall which extends to the back of the cottage. All the four original rooms lead off this hall. The parlour was at the front on the right, with the kitchen backing onto it, sharing a chimney breast, while two bedrooms were located on the left hand side. The bedrooms did not have a fireplace.

The floors are tongue and groove boards, some painted, some varnished. There are moulded skirtings, above which is wallpaper on Hessian scrim on timber sarking. Skirtings and architraves are the same throughout the cottage. The ceilings are varnished V tongue and groove.

The parlour has a carved fire surround, and a recent concrete firebox.

The kitchen is lined with scrim and wallpaper with dado panelling matching the hall. There have been few modifications internally, most in the kitchen. The original range was replaced with the present one c.1930s and a sink bench added. The walls in the kitchen have been covered in Pinex, as have those in the front bedroom.

The original part of the Big Cottage is largely unchanged. The main areas of modification are the verandah (wood replaced with concrete) and the addition to the north. The addition to the north appears to date from the 1950s and houses the bathroom.


The School House is located on the edge of the Beech forest on a slope overlooking the Big Cottage and the mountains opposite. Conservation architect Jackie Gillies considers that the School House was almost certainly shifted from another site, but there is no record of when.

The School House operated at Paradise from the 1920s. The building is a single room (c.3.7 by 4.3m). It has a detached corrugated iron chimney on one wall, a ledged and braced door and one twelve-pane double hung window. It is clad in stained timber shiplap weatherboards, some of which have been covered with flattened corrugated iron patches. There is a corrugated iron porch fixed over the door. The building rests on stacked stone piles on the lower side, and directly on the ground at the top side. The floor is timber covered in lino. The walls have wallpaper on Hessian scrim over timber sarking. The fireplace is made from stones and boulders with a corrugated iron back and chimney. There have been few alterations to this building. Inside built-in bunks would have been added when the property was made available to the public for accommodation.


The Garden of Eden Cottage is located towards the west of the property enclosed on three sides by forest and with a view right out beyond the Dart River to the mountains.

The Cottage was built in 1914 to house the family of one of the miners working on the Sheelite mine on the Paradise land, the Ross family. The Cottage comprises of three main rooms: a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen with a small shower/bathroom off it. There are two porches, one at the back and one at the front. The walls are clad in rough-sawn shiplap weatherboards. Windows are a mix of styles recycled from different sources. The roof is corrugated iron. The floor is half chipboard and half tongue and groove boards. The walls and ceilings are lined with a number of materials: particle board, sarking, Pinex and hardboard.


The Bushveldt Cabins are a group of three small buildings, including one hut and two cabins. They are situated to the southwest of Paradise House in a clearing in the Beech forest.

The Hut is a single room with a small kitchen at one end, a shower and bathroom off it and a concrete porch at the back. The walls are clad in stained rough sawn shiplap weatherboards. The windows are recycled, some fixed shut. The building sits on a mixture of stacked stone and timber foundations. It appears that the building may have been relocated to this position. The main room is lined with Pinex, the floor is tongue and groove timber with lino over. There is a stainless steel sink and Formica bench at one end, beside a maroon and cream enamelled range. The range feeds a wet-back hot water cylinder. The shower/bathroom has a concrete floor and Pinex walls.

The Cabins are clad in rusticated weatherboards and trim with a corrugated iron roof and lean-to verandah on one side. The verandah posts to Cabin 1 are unfinished logs. Both cabins have two windows (recycled single two-pane sashes from double hung windows. The door is tongue and groove edged and braced. The floors are tongue and groove with lino covering. Cabin 1 has Pinex ceiling and wall linings, while Cabin 2 has hardboard.


The Barn is located to the north of the homestead on the road that leads to the Big Cottage. The Barn comprises of a stable of six stalls with large covered areas in each wing. There is a hay loft on a second floor, accessed by a ladder from inside the stable. The lean-to roofs to each wing are constructed of tree-trunk posts with poured concrete footings formed in square oil tins. The roof is corrugated iron on pole rafters. The walls are clad in stained shiplap weatherboard with corner trims. Some areas of wall are in a bad state of repair. There are no casements, doors or architraves to the openings however some of the window and doorframes are still partially intact. There are two slatted gates accessing the stables under the lean-to wings to the North and South. These have strap hinges and galvanized flashing over the doorframe.

The floor is new poured concrete. The walls are unlined. There are three stalls to each side on the ground floor. Each stall has a rough sawn louvre frame and a timber manger. The hayloft is unlined with a doorway and small framed opening above to the east and west sides. The north and south walls under the eaves in the hayloft are open.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1883 -
Eden Grove built

Original Construction
1885 -
Pink Cottage built

1891 -
First accommodation wing constructed

1892 -
Addition to Accommodation Wing. Becomes known as Paradise House

1893 - 1900
The Annexe constructed

1894 -
Post and Telegraph Office addition

Accommodation Wing and Paradise House linked. Roof line of house altered.

Original Construction
1912 -
The Big Cottage constructed

Original Construction
1914 -
Garden of Eden Cottage built

1918 -
Delco Generator installed (presumably generator shed constructed, since demolished)

1920 - 1930
School House operating (perhaps relocated)

Bushveldt Huts constructed or relocated

Barn/Stable constructed (probably after 1893 as there was a fire that destroyed the stable at Paradise noted in this year.)

Demolished - Fire
2014 - 2014
Paradise House destroyed by fire

Construction Details

Buildings are of timber construction

Completion Date

12th December 2007

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop and Jackie Gillies

Information Sources

Bradshaw, 1997

Julia Bradshaw, Miners in the Clouds: A Hundred Years of Sheelite Mining at Glenorchy, The Lakes District Museum, Arrowtown, 1997

Chandler, 1984

Peter Chandler, Head of Lake Wakatipu Schools Centennial 1884-1984. Kinloch, Rees Valley, Glenorchy, Kinloch Household, Paradise Household, Dart Valley Household, Routeburn Household, Central Otago News, Alexandra, 1984

Evening Star

Evening Star

The Descriptive Guide to Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka and the Southern Alps of Otago, New Zealand, RS Hooper, 1884

Gardiner, 1894-1895

J.W. Gardiner, Gardiner's Reliable Tourist's Guide to Wakatipu District and Lakes, Gardiner, Queenstown, 1894-1895

Hocken Library

Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin

Paradise Guest House Visitors Books, PC 153, 154, 155, 156; Barbara Heffernan, 'Paradise Remembered' 1991, Misc-MS-1442

Macfarlane, 1983

D.L. Macfarlane, 'The Development of Tourism at the Head of Lake Wakatipu, 1860-1914.' BA Hons, History Department, University of Otago, 1983

McClure, 2004

M. McClure, The Wonder Country; Making New Zealand Tourism, Auckland, 2004

McKenzie, 1973

Doreen McKenzie, Road to Routeburn: The Story of Kinloch, Lake Wakatipu, John McIndoe, Dunedin, 1973

Miller, 1973

F.W.G Miller, Golden Days of Lake County, 5th edn, Christchurch, 1973

Stacpoole, 1971

John Stacpoole, William Mason: The First New Zealand Architect, Auckland, 1971

University of Otago

University of Otago

S.R. Ryan, 'The Development of the Tourist Industry in Queenstown: Tracing the progress of the town in this respect until its establishment as a year-round tourist resort.' MA, University of Otago, 1971

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

Jackie Gillies, 'Paradise Conservation Plan.' June 2002, Copy held Otago/Southland Area Office, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Dunedin

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.