Hikurangi Hotel

16 King Street, HIKURANGI

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The Hikurangi Hotel or ‘The Hika’ as it is known locally, is prominently located on the main street of Hikurangi and has been the focal point of social life in the town since 1882. It has historical significance through its connection with the early growth and development of Hikurangi and is architecturally significant as a well-maintained example of late 19th century hotel architecture. The hotel is held in high esteem by the local community. In 1862 12,000 acres of land in the Hikurangi area was purchased for the Crown. The Crown’s interest in acquiring the land lay in the mature forests of totara, rimu, kauri and other species and in the Hikurangi Swamp with its areas of good quality flax suited to cordage. Transport routes were established and the creation of a road to Whangarei in 1875 led to the development of a timber milling industry. Kauri gumdiggers were also working in the area but it was coal mining which was responsible for the growth of the town from 1890. It was against this backdrop of industry and transportation that the Hikurangi Hotel was constructed on the main road, presumably in response to a thirsty local workforce and the need to provide lodgings for travellers. At a meeting of the Hikurangi Licensing Committee on June 8 1882 the application of James Whitelaw was considered and a certificate was ordered to be issued for a license when his premises were finished. The building was still under construction in June 1882 and is shown completed on an 1883 survey plan of the property. Mr Whitelaw purchased the property from Mr Donald Matheson in 1884, and the New Zealand Herald reported that Mr Matheson had been ‘entertained at a banquet at the Hikurangi Hotel on his departure for his new home’. Of timber construction with sash windows, the original hotel building had two storeys with a verandah over the footpath and balcony on the first floor. There were also a number of additional buildings on the hotel property including a butcher’s shop/ store room and stables. Mr Matheson was still noted as the publican of the hotel in 1885, but in September of that year, the lease was taken over by Messrs Rolleston and Richardson, who set about ‘making considerable improvement, so that visitors to the district will find every needful accommodation’. In 1888 Rolleston and Richardson were reported as having ‘just completed the erection of commodious apartments as an addition to the main building of the hotel which will add much to its appearance and comfort’. They ran a coach service from the hotel to Whangarei, where travellers could connect with the steamers for Auckland, and the addition would have provided much needed overnight accommodation for coach passengers and other travellers to the area. The partnership between Rolleston and Richardson dissolved in 1888 and the hotel continued under the sole management of Rolleston who is said to have transformed the hotel property from ‘a wilderness and a swamp to a pretty fertile estate’, making other changes such as the erection of new stables. Rolleston undertook further extensive enlargements to the hotel’s accommodation in 1893-1894. In March 1893 he advertised for tenders for the deconstruction of the buildings known as the Comstock Hotel at Puhipuhi and their relocation and subsequent re-erection at Hikurangi, but later advertised for tenders for ‘alterations and additions’ to the Hikurangi Hotel, with the plans drawn up by Mr Wolf. Upon completion of the works, the hotel was described as ‘one of the best’ north of Auckland’. Rolleston moved on from the Hikurangi Hotel in 1897 and the license was transferred to Mr Schultze, who in turn transferred the license to Mary Ellen Keatley in 1899. In the same year the hotel property was purchased by brewer Moss Davis, who became the sole proprietor of Captain Cook Brewery Limited. The purchase of licensed hotels by New Zealand breweries was a common occurrence in the late 19th – early 20th centuries and the property was subsequently sold to Captain Cook Brewery Limited in 1900 and then to Hancock and Co. Limited in 1907. Proprietorship of the hotel changed numerous times throughout the 20th century and it was ‘splendidly renovated throughout’ in 1924 whilst under the management of Mr James Dowling. Additions to the bars were carried out in 1968 and 1975 and turned kauri bannisters were replaced by fibreglass on the upstairs balcony. The current owner purchased the property in 2004 and in 2010 the hotel was described as having a public bar, lounge bar, fifty seat bistro with commercial kitchen, first floor accommodation comprising seven rooms with shared bathroom facilities, self-contained owner’s / manager’s flat to the rear and a beer garden adjacent to the bars. The hotel remains a popular venue with the local Hikurangi community, where recreational life ‘seems to revolve around the Hika’. Since 2010 the lounge bar, bistro and accommodation have been closed, but the public bar and bottleshop are still in operation.

Hikurangi Hotel | Stuart Park | 01/11/2003 | NZ Historic Places Trust



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

11th November 1982

Date of Effect

11th November 1982

City/District Council

Whangārei District


Northland Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 22 DP 17558 (RT NA50B/253), North Auckland Land District, part of the land described as Legal Road, North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Hikurangi Hotel thereon.

Legal description

Lot 22 DP 17558 (RT NA50B/253) and Legal Road, North Auckland Land District

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