History

Heritage Hanmer Springs History: a rich Heritage for over 100 years

Heritage Hanmer Springs began life in 1897 as a lodge consisting of 18 accommodation rooms. In 1914, the owner, Duncan Rutherford, generously handed over the lodge to the newly formed Red Cross as a hospital for soldiers returning from the First World War, prior to the Queen Mary Hospital opening in 1916.

The lodge continued its existence as a private hotel upon its return to civilian life, catering for the increasing numbers of tourists to Hanmer Springs “taking the waters”.

In 1932 a new Spanish-style lodge was built, including the striking colonnades, Moorish arches and bell tower features that still exist today. This architecture inspired a reputation in the 1930s as the “finest accommodation house of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere,” according to local historian Mrs Rosemary Ensor and author of “Much Ado..,” a history of Hanmer Springs 1883-1983.

The Lodge continued until a fire on July the 3rd, 1958 broke out in the old wooden lodge and spread to the new Lodge. The night was bitterly cold and the frozen water in the pipes meant fire hoses could not operate properly, allowing more damage than would have been expected. No one was hurt and the locals were able to salvage much of the lodge furniture intact, as well as the food already prepared in the kitchens for the Amuri Ski Ball planned for the next night. However the devastation was enough to finish the wooden part of the lodge, halt trading and prompt a major refurbishment.

The lodge was rebuilt in its concrete shell and re-opened in 1960 by Mr John Booth. It continued to offer accommodation in a more modest form until purchased by Houghton Investments in the late 1990’s for the development seen today.