A Stop at the Hurunui Hotel on New Zealand’s South Island

Driving along Highway 7 on New Zealand’s South Island, between Christchurch and Hanmer Hot Springs, you’ll come across one of New Zealand’s delightful historic hotel properties.  It’s the Hurunui Hotel, which has been operating in these parts since July 1860.
New Zealand's South Island

This hotel has been in operation since the 1860s. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

The Hurunui region is known for sheep ranching and this hotel was first opened as a stagecoach stop for those traveling through and working in the region.  I love this wording included on the license given to John Hastie, the original owner of the Hurunui Hotel:

“that he keep eight beds in four bedrooms; shelter for six horses; provide stock yards for yoking up cattle; provide horses for travellers to ford the river; and also direct strangers to a safe fording place.”

where to eat in New Zealand

A simple, well-worn dining room has been attracting travelers since the 1860s. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

Today, the rooms aren’t much different than they were in the 1860s with simple twin or double beds with iron frames. The website describes them as “cozy.”  Yep, cozy is a nice word. Plus bathrooms are shared down the hall. The dining room and bar are also described as cozy, with tables well-worn over the years and soot from years of warming fires staining the fireplace.

We came across the Hurunui Hotel on a beautiful spring day in November – yes, November is spring in the southern hemisphere. If we hadn’t been driving our rented little camper van, we most certainly would have booked a room for the night, despite their cozy amenities. We were already quite cozy as it was.

new zealand beer

Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

Instead, we stopped for an adult beverage. The Hunurui is perhaps more renowned among kiwis as the establishment with the longest-held liquor license in New Zealand.  The consortium of owners today has enhanced its amenities by adding a vineyard and winery.  The old barn that once sheltered horses and other livestock is now the tasting room and a little gift shop.

Hunurui Valley wine

Photo by Bruce N. Meyer





I was intrigued by the quilt on the wall, me being a bit of a quilter and all. This style is called a “wagga.” I was told that traditionally, a “wagga” is made by men from old flour sacks, but today any quilt made from scraps is called a “wagga.”

wagga quilt, new zealand

Artist Carol Field asks $150 for this “wagga” at the Hunurui Hotel gift shop. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

But we were already quite cozy and no room for quilts in our little camper van or our luggage back home. Plus, we had reservations on down the road at Hanmer Hot Springs. We could have spent much longer at Hurunui. In fact, we could have spent much longer every where we were in New Zealand.  Yep, a return trip must be in our future.


2 thoughts on “A Stop at the Hurunui Hotel on New Zealand’s South Island

  1. Sandy

    I would love to make a trip to New Zealand, Diana. You just made me want to go much more. We have been to Australia, but didn’t have time to make it to NZ. It sounds lovely.

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