This grand historic Dunstan House building in the gold mining days was known as “Dunstan Hotel”, or simply, “The Dunstan”. This building dates from 1898, but the cellar beneath was built for the original wooden hotel in 1863, and before that, a canvas tent served as the hotel of choice from when miners first came into the area seeking gold.
The building which has a grade 2 listing with the Historic Places Trust, has been maintained in its original form, with the sympathetic addition of modern conveniences.
The gold rush caused Clyde to grow rapidly and the tent village gave way to more permanent structures. In 1863 the original “Dunstan Hotel” known locally as “The Dunstan” was erected on this site. Built from weatherboard with arched windows and wooden quoins on the corners, the accommodation included a dining, drawing and smoking room, as well as a theatre for Saturday night entertainment complete with a brass band and dancing girls.
It also functioned as the booking office for Cobb & Co’s horse-drawn coaches laden with passengers. Accommodation, stabling and meals were provided for the 3-day trip to and from Dunedin or the journey up to Arrowtown or Queenstown.
In 1898 a fire destroyed the accommodation, but given the hotel’s convenient location and popularity, a new hotel was built on the same site using the original cellar. This building had no expense spared during construction, to provide a luxurious base for the ladies and gentlemen who were regularly visiting to check on their business and investments. The contractor, George Holloway employed stonemason Thomas Wilkinson to work with schist stone which was quarried locally from Clyde. Albert Fountain, who was the staircase builder and joiner, locally sourced native hardwood kauri timber which he used to handcraft on-site the beautiful central stairway.
While originally built with just a small “Juliet” balcony above the front doors, it quickly became apparent that with the harsh summer heat guests needed somewhere comfortable and shaded to sit and enjoy the views, so a full-length veranda was added and remains today.
The imposing Georgian style 2 story building was the first of its kind in Central Otago and continued its important role as the social gathering point for the thousands of miners and early settlers working and frequenting the new Clyde District.
Accommodation, meals, refreshments, and entertainment were provided throughout the gold rush days until the doors of the Hotel closed in 1937. The numbers of patrons had dwindled by that time as the gold rush was over and Clyde had become a small rural town.
The name “Dunstan Hotel” was then sold to the owners of the nearby Commercial Hotel, and the building went through a period of neglect.
It was then sold on and over the following decades. It was both a private home and a boarding house with various owners until the 1990s when it was then modernised. Ensuites were fitted with a restaurant placed in the old bar and billiard room area downstairs.
This work was instrumental in ensuring that Dunstan House was brought back to its original grandeur.
The boutique hotel now known as Dunstan House, opened providing wonderful heritage accommodation with an ambience of yesteryear. It has been further enhanced recently with earthquake strengthening and a refurbishment sympathetic to its history.
It now includes WiFi, central heating and modern bathrooms for all the comforts today’s travellers expect while maintaining that aura of grandeur and originality that makes the experience here unique.
Meredith and Ian Kerrisk, the current owners, purchased Dunstan House in 2018. They have taken on the responsibility of ensuring this grand historic building hosts many more travellers and guests in comfort and elegance, combined with a unique historic experience.
Meredith is a “local” girl having grown up in Clyde. She lived in Miners Lane just a short distance away from Dunstan House and remembers walking past it each day on her way to school and loving its grandeur. Meredith has an extensive background in hospitality, her family has owned a bakery and restaurant as well as a successful catering business. She worked throughout New Zealand in hospitality management before she and Ian returned to Central Otago. Owning Dunstan House and being back in Clyde is a dream come true for her.
Ian is originally from Taranaki and a proud “Naki boy” but was brought to Central Otago by Meredith and fell in love with the area and lifestyle. Having spent 37 years working as a Police officer throughout New Zealand, latterly as the Senior Sergeant in charge of Central Otago, Ian has travelled New Zealand and appreciates how special the Central Otago area is. Now retired from Policing to take over Dunstan House Ian a confessed “people person” is loving the life change with Dunstan House and now calls Clyde home.