Newspaper Article 1965 – Tarawera Hotel burns to ground

Tarawera Hotel burns to ground

The two-storeyed wooden hotel at Tarawera – about 45 miles from Napier on the Napier-Taupo road – was burned to the ground early this morning.

Eleven persons escaped from the blazing building in their night attire. They included the owner, Mr S. Orlowski, his wife and three children, two guests and three regular boarders.

One man, Mr J. Fitzgerald, believed to come from Rotorua, received lacerations of the wrist and arm while escaping from the burning building.

He was brought by car to the Napier Public Hospital, treated at the outpatients’ department, and allowed to leave.

The 91-year-old hotel blazed furiously, sending a red glow over the surrounding forestry areas. The glow was seen some five miles away.

The licensee, Mr L.N. Matthews, was awakened by screams about 2.30 a.m. He rushed through the building waking guests.


Mr Matthews had his hair and hands singed and had to drag out a Tarawera millhand, Mr W. Merrick, who had been overcome by the smoke.

People in the district accommodated the guests and staff. Some slept in the cookhouse of a nearby sawmill.

Very few personal belongings were saved, and this morning people of the district were busy finding clothes and catering for the fire victims.

It is thought the fire started in an upstairs bedroom.



worker’s wife, Mrs V. Keen. This morning Mrs Keen minded the children while Mr and Mrs Orlowski and Mr Matthews travelled to Taupo to buy new clothes and personal effects.


The hotel was a well-known landmark on the route between Napier and Taupo. The site was the first day stopping place for five-horse coaches from Napier in the early days.

The hotel was built in 1874 after the militia had established a stockade, which was sited near the present hotel. This followed military action against the Maoris in this area.

It is understood that architects were preparing plans for reconstruction of the hotel in accordance with directions issued recently by the Licensing Control Commission. Efforts are being made to set up a temporary bar.

The hotel was insured for £10,000.

Photo caption – ALL THAT REMAINS of the 91-year […] destroyed by fire early this morning […] to users of the […]

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Business / Organisation

Tarawera Hotel


Napier-Taupo Road

Format of the original

Newspaper article

Date published

15 July 1965


The Daily Telegraph


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • J Fitzgerald
  • Mrs V Keen
  • L N Matthews
  • W Merrick
  • Mrs Orlowski
  • S Orlowski

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