Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998

By Ian Parlane

Scattered throughout our Journals and in numerous newspaper clippings are many references to various accommodation houses and hotels in the general vicinity of Paeroa. Some of those are shown in photos on the Museum display boards and in several publications. This article aims to consolidate this information under one heading.

[Note: The location of photographs is indicated as follows;

DB - Display Boards at Paeroa Museum.

Jub - Ohinemuri County Council Diamond Jubilee 1945 publication.

NER - Ohinemuri County Council publication, "No Easy Riches" by Barber.

Lions - Paeroa Old and New, published by Paeroa Lions Club.

G to G - From Gold to Green by M.J. Cotter, 1975.]

The construction of these establishments mirrors the development of early Paeroa. The surprising number and size of these places emphasises the fact that there were so many single or "unattached" men who came here for gold exploration and mining with its associated batteries. Later on there were roading and railway construction by the Public Works Department. Development of the Hauraki Plains and flood prevention works subsequently required considerable manpower.

The first "hotels" were probably no more than canvas and pole construction but when milled timber became available a more substantial but simple timber and corrugated iron building quickly followed. (Timber would have been available by river steamer from McCaskill's mill at the Hikutaia Stream mouth or Bagnall's mill at Turua.) When the cyanide process for the extraction of gold and silver proved successful at the Crown Battery, Karangahake, stability seemed to have arrived for the mining industry and a rash of construction of new and substantial hotels in Paeroa commenced from about 1890.


The first hotel for which I can find reference was Mr Austin's PAEROA HOTEL which was commenced late in 1874 and was apparently in Wharf Street near where the Plunket Society building now stands. Mr Austin had constructed his own "wharf" on the riverbank. However, something of a mystery surrounds the precise location of this hotel. Mr A M Isdale in the Hauraki Herald of 18 March 1997 quotes a visitor to Paeroa about Easter 1875 as saying that he landed at the "Junction" where old John Mahoney had erected a public house on Peter Austin's farm. The visitor is then reported to have walked on to town "where there were only two pubs, one kept by Peter Austin at the landing . . . ." A little further on the visitor says "Davy Snodgrass had his bakehouse just opposite Austin's", but Snodgrass' premises were in the lower portion of Arney Street, near the river!

An early resident, Mr R Henry, who arrived in 1891, records that there were five hotels here at that time; the CRITERION; the BELMONT (run by Mr Geo. Crosby but shortly to be replaced by the ROYAL MAIL); the ALL NATIONS (a small building almost alongside the Belmont); the PAEROA (run by J H Moore); and the COMMERCIAL owned by J M Coote.

Another early newspaper advertisement records that "the Rev. Mr Willis will be preaching in the IMPERIAL HOTEL, Paeroa, on 27 May 1875" but I have not found any further reference to this hotel or its location. Similarly another undated cutting (maybe 1876) records that "Mr T W Allen, proprietor of the ROBIN HOOD HOTEL at Paeroa has used flour produced by Mr J H Wilson at the Ohinemuri Flour Mills (on the Kauoiti Stream near the present Mill Road intersection).

The new Criterion Hotel built in 1897

The new Criterion Hotel built in 1897. This photo was taken in 1909.

Paeroa Hotels and Accommodation
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998
The new Criterion Hotel built in 1897

The CRITERION HOTEL was constructed in February 1875 for Asher Cassrels and Phillip Bennett. It also had its own wharf. (Photo of original hotel, "Green to Gold" page 12) It is clear that this establishment prospered, for a new and very elegant building was opened on 15 February 1897 with 24 bedrooms. (D.B. photo and Paeroa Gazette 29/1/1997). It is these premises, with some minor modifications, which still stands on the original site.

The ROYAL MAIL HOTEL was built in 1895 for Mr Geo. Crosby and it replaced the original PAEROA HOTEL, which was demolished. (Prior to building the ROYAL MAIL Mr Geo. Crosby had been the proprietor of the BELMONT HOTEL in Cassrels Street in succession to John Mahoney.) Located at the intersection of Belmont Road and Wharf Street, it was a two storey wooden building of 40 rooms. (The Cyclopedia of NZ 1900 records that Mr Samuel J Atkins was proprietor at that time.) When the district went "dry" on 30 June 1909 the premises continued as a private hotel until the building was destroyed by fire on 19 February 1912 and a guest lost his life in the blaze. With the return of liquor licences in 1925 the Crosby family built a new reinforced concrete building, the ROYAL MAIL HOTEL, which became the R.S.A. premises in the mid 1970s. (Original premises photo Jub. page 69, new premises photo Lions page 4)

The COMMERCIAL HOTEL was built for Mr J M Coote. A two storey building with 32 bedrooms, it was erected on the southwest corner of the Normanby Road-Arney Street intersection. (Photo Jub. page 100, stated to be in 1892. Another photo in the same publication, page 119, and taken in 1934 shows some alterations have been made). Some time after 1934 Mr E P Fathers acquired the property and it was renamed FATHERS HOTEL. (Mr & Mrs Fathers had been licensees for a period while it still operated under the title of the Commercial.) After a very critical report from the inspector from the Licensing Control Commission the top storey was removed in the 1960s and the premises became a tavern.

The ALL NATIONS HOTEL was in Cassrels Street almost alongside the BELMONT HOTEL. (referred to under ROYAL MAIL heading) Mr Maurice G Power was the proprietor in 1891. There are conflicting reports as to when Mr Power built the OHINEMURI HOTEL on the southeast corner of the Normanby Road-Arney Street intersection. At page 100 in Mr A A Jenkinson's "Ohinemuri County Council Jubilee" book there in a very clear photo dated 1892 showing a very handsome two storey building with first floor verandas on both frontages. On the display boards in the museum is a photo which states on it "built in 1896". The display board photo shows the upper storey verandah on the Normanby Road frontage has been removed and the building is looking rather "tatty". These premised were destroyed by a fire which was noticed at 10.50 pm on 30 June 1909, the last night before the district went "dry". A press report says the building was not insured! A remarkable coincidence. (The Cyclopedia of NZ 1900 states that the "Ohinemuri Hotel" was first established in Cassels Street and that the present building was built in 1896).

Delaney's PAEROA HOTEL was built in 1896 on the northwest corner of the Belmont Road-Corbett Street intersection. (Photo Jub. page 82) While the building was being built it caught fire at 7 pm on 18 August 1896. The building was only partly damaged and was restored and completed. In late 1903 a further fire apparently occurred but it was quickly suppressed without extensive damage. A decision was made to take steps to relocate on a new site opposite the Railway station in Belmont Road. Mr Delaney applied to the Licensing Committee at its meeting on 2 March 1904 for the issue of a Licence for the new site but this was declined until "half the building was located on the new site".

The "Gazette" report of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 6 May 1904 reads, "P J Delaney, application for removal of PAEROA HOTEL licence to opposite the Railway Station. Mr Mueller (solicitor), appeared in support of the applicant and stated that the formal matters in connection with the application had been proved at the last sitting of the Committee. At its previous meeting the Committee had adjourned so as to allow a portion of the building to be removed to the new site. This had been done and a portion of the building was now in its permanent position, ready for the balance of the building to go alongside it. Mr Palmer (for the owners) said they hoped to have the other half of the building on the new site before June. The cost would be of the order of £1200 - £1300. Application granted unanimously."

"Gazette" 10 June 1904, "The work of removing the PAEROA HOTEL to the site opposite the railway station had been completed and the two halves of the building are alongside each other." 20 June 1904, "Work on the PAEROA HOTEL having been completed, business commenced on 18 June."

No mention is made in the newspaper of just how they moved the two halves but, because of the deep open drains on either side of Belmont Road, it is probable that they were moved across the land now occupied by Linn Motors. At that time this land, known as Delaney's paddock, was used for rugby until the Domain field was formed about 1904/05. The motive power for the moving of the portions of the building would probably have been a bullock team.

The district surrounding Paeroa township was also liberally provided with Hotels.


In early 1875 there were many licensed premises at Mackaytown, probably as many as fifteen. These were, in the main, hastily constructed buildings, usually called "grog shops" rather than hotels. There was then no settlement at Karangahake but Mr Lipsey was to soon establish licensed premises in the vicinity. These early "hotels" soon vanished with the departure of the miners later in 1875 and 1876. Only the Mackaytown Hotel remained by 1880.

After the second discovery of gold in 1882, further hotels were built at Karangahake. In addition to the hotels there were a number of boarding houses.

Following the Election in December 1908, the area became "No Licence". The hotel bars closed on 30 June 1909, after which all the hotels continued to operate as boarding houses. Restoration of Liquor Licences was not carried until the Election of December 1925, by which time no hotels remained, except the Mackaytown Hotel, which was moved to Waikino in 1926. The three hotels during Karangahake's heyday were the Tramway, Karangahake and Mackaytown Hotels.

MACKAYTOWN HOTEL - This was about 6 kms from Paeroa, opposite the western end of the Rahu Road (the original road to Waihi prior to the construction of the road through the gorge). The original Hotel, known as the "Royal Mail", was built by Mr Hayman in 1875 and was constructed almost entirely of packing cases. It was later owned by Mr Carol Nash. The second Hotel was erected in 1898 and contained 18 rooms. In that year Mr Harry Priston became licensee. This hotel had 18 bedrooms, dining accommodation for 60 people and stabling for 15 horses. At the rear of the premises a bowling green and tennis court were constructed.

In March 1902 Mr W (Rox) Woodward became licensee until March 1906, when the licence was transferred to Mr J C Crean. In March 1908 the licensee became Mr John Quinn. After "Prohibition" took effect on 30 June 1909 the hotel was used as a boarding house and finally Mrs Flavell was caretaker until the building was moved to Waikino in 1926, where it remains today. It was converted to a tavern in the 1960s.

TRAMWAY HOTEL - This was situated across the river on what was known in the 1880s as "Battery Flat". Mr Shepherd who was the owner of the Tramway Hotel, Waitekauri, commenced building at Karangahake in October 1883 and on 11 December 1883 the Ohinemuri Licensing Bench Commission approved his application for a transfer of his licence from the Tramway Hotel at Waitekauri to Karangahake. The hotel was opened two weeks later. Supplies for the hotel were lowered down the hill behind the hotel from Woodstock Road as there was no bridge across the river until 1885.

The second Tramway Hotel Karangahake

The second Tramway Hotel built to replace the building burnt down in 1906. In the background is one of Karangahake's many boarding houses.

Paeroa Hotels and Accommodation
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998
The second Tramway Hotel Karangahake

In 1898 Mr Shepherd sold the hotel to L D Nathan & Co and Mr Algar Bunyard became licensee (for a short time) followed by Mr W E Ryan. Following his death in 1902, his widow, Kate became the licensee. She later remarried to Peter Crosby by which time the hotel had been purchased by Mrs Mary B Montgomery. Kate Ryan (Crosby) however continued as licensee. The hotel was burnt down on 16 September 1906 but was rebuilt and the licence transferred to Mr J Ryan in 1908. The hotel had its own electric lighting which was quite a novelty before the turn of the century. The generator was driven by the stream in Scotchman's Gully.

By 1916 Mr Monsey and his wife were running the hotel as a boarding house. At 3 00am on Sunday 20 February 1916 the building was burnt down, with loss of life. Mr and Mrs Monsey were away in Australia on holiday and Mr Monsey's mother-in-law, Mrs Dawson, was looking after the establishment. She was trapped and burnt to death. The hotel was not rebuilt following the second disastrous fire.

KARANGAHAKE HOTEL - This was established by J H Walsh in 1884 on a low bluff at the site of the township. At first it was known as the Crown Hotel. In November 1888 the hotel was sold to Mr J Kelly. At this time the hotel also became the coach depot at Karangahake and remained so until after 1892.

In January 1895 the Ohinemuri County Council cut the end off the bluff, leaving the hotel 11 feet above the roadway. The building was then lifted a further four feet with jacks and another storey built below it. By this time the hotel was owned by Ehrenfried Bros.

At the end of 1897 Mr William Montgomery took over the licence from Mr Ryan, followed by Mr A Montgomery from 1903 until December 1907 when it was transferred to George Inglis. After "Prohibition" in 1909, the Lockley family ran it as a boarding house. They were followed by the McRaes. In 1919 it closed and was moved in sections to Te Puke. The foundations of this hotel can still be seen, near the present "Talisman Tearooms".


Although Hikutaia was also well endowed with hotels in its early years, little of their existence appears to have been recorded. The one exception is the PIONEER HOTEL. The original premises were built about 1880 although the actual date is uncertain. Mr & Mrs James Corbett purchased the property in 1881 and it remained in the family for the next 51 years. A 1910 photo shows a very substantial two storey building with nine windows facing the road from the top storey. The hotel was in the Thames electorate and did not lose its licence when the hotels in the Ohinemuri did. Consequently the Pioneer Hotel prospered greatly and by 1917 large wings had been added to each end of the original building. As the number of motor vehicles on the road increased trade gradually fell away and in the early 1960s the top storey was removed, the ground floor remodelled and the premises converted to a tavern.

About 500 metres from the Pioneer and on the Old Maratoto Road, Mr J L Steven ran a boarding house in 1885 catering mainly for gum diggers and gold prospectors. He applied for a liquor licence in that year but his application was declined. However, it seems that by 1887-88 he had been granted a licence for the STERLING HOTEL (in some records spelled STIRLING). The Maratoto goldfield did not turn out to be profitable and the available kauri gum had been extracted by 1894 and the proprietor filed for bankruptcy. The premises were transferred to Ehrenfried and by 1 October 1895 the building had been moved to Waihi and was operating with the same proprietor! (Mr Stevens)

For a brief period two other hotels existed in the Hikutaia area. One was in the area known as the Maori Flats, about 3kms from the township on the Old Maratoto Road and the other towards the top of the Maratoto Road near the mine. These premises seem to have been short-lived.


When Mr Powers opened his Ohinemuri Hotel, a Mrs Capill took over the former All Nations Hotel as a boarding house. This building was burned down on 7 November 1897 and a new boarding house, the REEFTON, was erected at 120 Normanby Road, a site later occupied by the Farmers Trading Co. Ltd. for 40 years. The Reefton was also known as Mrs Capill's, and was a two storey building (Photo D.B. taken 12/1/1908). In the fire of 7 November the neighbouring RIVER VIEW BOARDING HOUSE in Cassrels Street was also destroyed. The River View was thought to have been erected in 1875.

The MONTROSE BOARDING HOUSE was a two storey 23 roomed wooden building located at 6 Belmont Road. It was owned by Mr A Cassrels but when it was destroyed by fire on 15 October 1923 it was managed by Mrs A Davidson. (Photo D.B. taken 3/7/1909)

The CENTRAL BOARDING HOUSE (and City Buffet) was located at 31 Belmont Road. It was a substantial building run by Jakob Bertelsen, who, for a period, was also involved in the operation of the Paeroa Brewery. The Central was destroyed by fire at 1.30am on 27 July 1916. The Thames Valley Electric Power Board later erected a portion of their offices on the site.

Immediately next door to the Central was BELMONT HOUSE on the western portion of 31 Belmont Road where a large transformer kiosk is now situated. The name was probably taken in succession to the BELMONT HOTEL in Cassrels Street when that establishment was destroyed. Eventually the boarding house closed and the building was taken over by Brockett and Shand as a grocery shop. The property was unused when it was burned down on 19 July 1967. The press report of the fire says the building was thought to be about 70 years old. (Photo. D.B.)

At the intersection of Railway Street and Junction Road a two storey 14 roomed wooden building was erected about 1899. Mr M J Cotter in "From Gold to Green" states that this building was used in 1900 as a temporary residence for three Catholic Sisters who had arrived from Sydney to teach at the St. Joseph's School. When the Sisters moved to their permanent residence in the Church grounds in 1902 the building was given the name RAILWAY HOUSE or, more commonly, Mrs Salt's Boarding House. This establishment was burned down on 30 October 1939 at which time Mr R Lowe was the manager. A southerly gale was blowing at the time of the fire and sparks and cinders blow over the railway line and set alight to the upper verandah of the Paeroa Hotel.

The last establishment of any substance which I have been able to identify was MRS MOLONEY'S which occupied part of what is now 12 Belmont Road. In the early 1900s this location was occupied by Mr D Evan's grocery shop and his home next door. Immediately adjacent to the Evan's dwelling was another owned by Miss Keller. In 1928 Mrs Moloney took up the tenancy of both dwellings and provided boarding accommodation for 14 men and meals for up to 30 people. This establishment closed soon after the commencement of World War II in 1939. (Jub. photo page 82)

(Editor's Note: Some while ago Mr C W Malcolm supplied the following ) In Journal 24,1980, facing page 15, is a photograph of Maurice Power's Ohinemuri Hotel. The picture was printed in reverse. I have drawn it in its correct position with the long verandah facing Arney Street, the Normanby Road frontage having lost its verandah. The hotel was situated directly across Arney Street from what was Fathers' Commercial Hotel.

Maurice Power's Ohinemuri Hotel.

Maurice Power's Ohinemuri Hotel.

Paeroa Hotels and Accommodation
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998
Maurice Power's Ohinemuri Hotel.