Which Kiwi pub is the oldest? It’s a topic that could spark an animated chat over a pint or two. Several claim the title, depending how you define “oldest”. Is it the date of the building or its first liquor licence? Has it always been a pub or was it something else for a bit? Is it a pub, tavern or hotel? Yikes! Anyway, here are five contenders. Brought to you by the team behind our weekly Travel magazine, published on Tuesdays.
Horeke Hotel, Hokianga
The Horeke Hotel claims to be the oldest surviving pub in New Zealand, with a history dating to 1833, although it wasn’t legally licensed back then.
On the waterfront, it originally served the local shipbuilders. It’s now a fully licensed restaurant and bar with accommodation, including a “house over the water”, which was built in 1923.
Moutere Inn, Upper Moutere
Set in the fertile Moutere Valley near Nelson, the Moutere Inn is considered the heart of the village and proudly states it’s the oldest pub in New Zealand, dating to 1850. (See – that’s two claims already.) These days, the establishment offers a variety of craft beers on tap and sources all its wines within 10km of the bar. Proper local.
The Duke, Russell
The Duke of Marlborough Hotel opened in 1827 as “Johnny Johnston’s Grog Shop” – named after its ex-convict owner. Originally frequented by whalers, traders and prostitutes, the establishment was renamed and gained its first licence in 1840 after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. That makes it the first legal pub in New Zealand. Maybe.
Today, the menu showcases locally sourced seasonal produce with more than 100 wines and 30 beers to choose from. The beachfront location is sublime on a summer day.
Whangamomona Hotel, Taranaki
This Taranaki hotel on the Forgotten World Highway lauds itself as the most remote country hotel in New Zealand.
Used as a hospital during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, the current building is the second on the site. The first burnt down in 1911. The kitchen coal range was the only thing that survived and the new hotel was built around it.
The Thistle Inn, Wellington
The Thistle claims to have received only the second liquor license issued in New Zealand. Which definitely isn’t the first. Its original incarnation as a tavern dates to 1840, however it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1866. It’s now a Category One historic building.
Many a famous character has stayed over the years, including Katherine Mansfield who made so many visits a meeting room carries her name. One of her poems hangs on the wall.
This story by Juliette Sivertsen was first published in Herald on June 16. For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com
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