Welcome to The Pier Hotel, Kaikoura, New Zealand

History of the Pier Hotel

The Hotel has a Long History

The original site for The Pier Hotel was near the old wharf, where early photos show it standing close to the beach and the home of pioneer George Fyffe. The owner, J.W. Goodall, built it to catch the accommodation trade from ships which called at Kaikoura, and for the local whalers and fisherman when they came ashore with a thirst!

At the time the hotel was built, the local sawmill was bankrupt, and wood had to be brought in by sea from Kenepuru Mill in Picton. The specifications for the building, drawn up by the architect H.B. Huddleston, can be seen in the Kaikoura Museum.

From "The Lyttleton Times", published on July 26th 1885: 
Beautiful Views from The Pier Hotel

“The Pier Hotel at the Wharf is now ready for occupation. The Proprietor has had several enquiries regarding its occupancy, but has not had an eligible offer and is not in a hurry to let the place.”

Eventually trade increased, and a new wharf was needed. When the site was changed, the Pier moved as well. Cut into pieces, the hotel was shifted with the help of rollers and a traction engine. It must have been quite a sight: at one point part of the building got stuck. Eventually the pieces were reunited on the current site.

The most celebrated proprietor over the years was Wilson Rutledge, a former ship’s steward who took over the lease in 1914. The Pier was in a run-down state when he took over.

Still the Local

One of their daughters recalled that after they had refurbished the building, one visiting inspector said that it was “the best country hotel in New Zealand.”

One character who frequented The Pier was Jimmy Armer, a small man with a white beard who wore a wide-brimmed hat, and lived in the sheltered corner beyond the fisherman’s wharf. He had a faithful dog, a mongrel.

Jimmy sometimes found it difficult to stagger home, and, as he fell by the wayside, the dog would nudge him with its nose until he got on to his feet again. Another well-remembered patron was Mickey Miskin, who, provided his beer was kept topped up, would play the piano for hours on end.

History is everywhere at The Pier Hotel

When fire razed the Adelphi Hotel in 1918, the proprietor, George Shields, had everything arranged on his premises for the wedding of his daughter, Ruby. Wilson Rutledge offered the Pier Hotel as the replacement venue for the wedding breakfast, and two large marquees were put up on the grass beside the hotel.

On leaving the district, Mr and Mrs Rutledge were given a presentation and farewell by the Kaikoura Fishermen’s Association, and tribute was paid to their efficient running of the hotel. In his reply, Mr Rutledge said: “He was not Bill Massey (the then Prime Minister) but just plain old Bill therefore they could not expect a long speech from him.

He regretted that the Government had not seen fit to spend more money for the protection of the fine fleet of fishing launches now engaged in these waters and
in fostering the fishing industry.”

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