Seismic-strengthened: Arrowtown’s historic The Fork and Tap building


Though it’s one of Arrowtown’s older buildings, The Fork and Tap’s now one you’d most want to shelter in during an earthquake.

After a new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings came into effect in 2017, Queenstown’s council’s singled out various buildings that need seismic strengthening by a certain date or they’ll be condemned.

Built in 1874, The Fork and Tap — which has latterly housed a restaurant/craft beer bar —
received a ‘‘low’’ rating, and owner Jeannie Crawford was given till 2035 to bring it up to

Cheers: The Fork and Tap owner Jeannie Crawford, left, and operations manager Helena Smith celebrate the building’s reopening

Having owned the Heritage New Zealand Category 2 building for 14 years and the business for the past 10 years, she decided not to wait — ‘‘it was time for the inside to have a bit of a revamp, she was looking a little bit tired’’.

Work started in early February and finished just two weeks ago.

‘‘The whole project’s been massive,’’ she says.

She won’t reveal the cost but did get a $100,000 grant from the Ministry for Culture &
Heritage’s Heritage EQUIP fund, which has just been canned — and a $3000 council heritage incentive grant towards professional fees.

Crawford decided to go for a 100% seismic rating.

‘‘We’re wanting to preserve it for generations.

‘‘I think it’s the responsibility of the ownership of the building — we’re just the guardians, really, for something that’s unique to the area and precious to Arrowtown.’’

The work included stripping the building down to its foundations and removing the ceiling.

On Heritage NZ’s advice, and to Crawford’s surprise, raw steel used to strengthen the building has been left exposed.

‘‘They wanted it so you could walk in and you know something’s been done to preserve
the building.’’

She’s thrilled with the quality of the work undertaken by contractor Bamford McLeod Construction and other tradies — her aim was to give work to local firms.

Crawford says people had stopped her in the street and gone, ‘‘Oh my god, what are you
doing? You’re not modernising it?’’

She was happy to reassure them — ‘‘we really wanted to make sure it was very much in fitting with the heritage of the building, and our local customers could come in and still recognise it was The Fork and Tap’’.

Though the new bar, decorated with oak panelling, brass and dappled glass, has been repositioned, it still runs 19 taps.

Even though the project took longer than intended — due to joinery being delayed and the latest lockdown — drinkers and diners had use of a pop-up bar, ‘the Den’, out the back.

‘‘We shut down for a day, and even then we had drinks at the end of that day.’’

The project also included taking off layers of old paint from the exterior to bring back the original lime wash coating, which also allows the building to breathe better.

A fresh layer of lime wash will be added next.

A second stage, still to be scheduled, will include a new kitchen and toilets and an office.

‘‘We’re just going to take a breather,’’ Crawford says.

Once we’re back in Alert Level 1 there’ll be a grand reopening party.

Meantime, Queenstown’s Altitude Brewing’s marked the occasion by supplying a new
hazy pale ale labelled ‘Full Glory’.