Newspaper Article 1988 – Fire destroys historic hotel

Fire destroys historic hotel

The historic Rangitaiki Hotel, about 40km from Taupo on the Napier-Taupo highway, was destroyed by fire last night.

Passing motorists noticed the fire soon after 8pm, informed residents and joined in the effort to save the building and priceless relics.

But little was able to be saved from the building which had been moved from its original site and renovated to form part of the Rangitaiki Lodge, owned by Wally Lippel and Mary Ruthe.

Firemen called from the fire service in Taupo, Timberlands camp at Iwitahi and Lochinver Station, arrived to find the 100-year-old building well alight.

Lodge employee, Nicolle Stone said today “The building’s completely had it.”

The building had been restored to reflect its earliest bar conditions, the only thing missing being the bearded clientele and their ale. Amongst items lost in the fire were original beer taps, cash till and telephone.

Ms Stone said Mr Lippel and Ms Ruthe were distressed about the fire, though warmed by the response from the Rangitaiki community. Some historic items, including photographs, were recovered.

The couple had operated the lodge for less than a year.

The hotel stopped operating in the liquor business in 1969 when the Rangitaiki Tavern was built.

The old building was then made a relic under the care of the Historic Places Trust.

Part of the building was once a barracks messroom for the Armed Constabulary based at Opepe, a few kilometres from Rangitaiki. In June 1969 [1869], Te Kooti’s advance guard surprised a group of Bay of Plenty cavalrymen in a clearing at Opepe and slew nine of its 14 members.

Photo caption – FLASHBACK … the Rangitaiki Hotel in 1902

Original digital file



Copyright on this material is owned by Hawke's Bay Today and is not available for commercial use without their consent.

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ)

For non-commercial use, this work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ).

Business / Organisation

Rangitaiki Hotel


Napier-Taupo Road

Date published

12 January 1988

Format of the original

Newspaper article


The Daily Telegraph


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Wally Lippel
  • Mary Ruthe
  • Nicolle Stone
  • Te Kooti

Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.