Grand house’s gold standard restoration


One of Queenstown’s few remaining gold rush grand houses is to become a high-end boutique hotel.

Renovation work is well underway at Hulbert House - the 19th century villa on a large site bordered by Ballarat, Hallenstein and Malaghan Streets.

The multi-million dollar project will see the run-down house carefully restored and remodelled, providing six suites for guests.

A Japanese family living in New Zealand are pumping money into the project via its family trust, the Efu Trust.

It also renovated the two-storey property on the corner of Malaghan St and Henry St, as a private holiday home.

Queenstown heritage architect Jackie Gillies, in the Hulbert House resource consent application, says: “The house has been subject to increasing decay and deterioration over the last few years.

“The work envisaged by the applicant is intended to reverse this decay and make suitably sympathetic changes to the building that will ensure it will be cared for into the future and remain as a central element in Queenstown’s history for many years to come.”

Both resource and land use consent have now been granted and Boden Building workers are on site.

The impressive timber-framed weatherboard villa, with its large gables and bay windows, was built in 1888 for Horatio Nelson Firth. Firth was a local receiver of gold revenue and mining registrar plus a court official.

It served as a family home, guesthouse and several other uses before retired British Army captain Ted Sturt bought it in 1981.

Sturt restored the house and ran it as a family home and B&B until he died in 2009. It was put on the market by his children and bought by the Efu Trust in 2013.

“All original materials of the building will be retained, repaired or replaced in matching profiles according to their condition,” Gillies adds.

“A philosophy of repair rather than replace will be applied.”

A new conservatory and staircase will be added, along with other alterations.

The building is a category three item on Queenstown’s district plan list of protected items and also has a category two listing in the Heritage New Zealand (HNZ) register of historic places.

It is further protected by a heritage covenant placed on the title between HNZ and Sturt.

Auckland-based project manager Neil McLachlan, of Neil McLachlan Designs, says: “It’s a wonderful use for the building.

“It will give it a whole new lease of life, to a standard where it can be enjoyed for another 100 years.

“The family is very committed to heritage projects. They’re interested in contributing to the historic value of the town.”

The project should be completed by the end of the year.