History of the Lodge

The Early Days

During the 1920's, ex Englishman Fred Fletcher made many trips across to Taupo from the Hawkes Bay to fish for rainbow trout and dreamed of one day building a fishing and hunting lodge. In 1932, after securing the lease of two and a half acres of land on the banks of the Mangamutu Stream, a tributary of the Waitahanui River, began building the Lodge.

The weatherboard lodge then consisted of a dining room, lounge, kitchen and sleeping accommodation for nine. There was no electricity or running water and by today's standards it must have been fairly primitive. In those days, the trout being caught often weighed in at more than 20lbs and there was no limit. Word got out and before long guests from New Zealand and all over the world stayed at the lodge and included army dignitaries, diplomats and even royalty. But no matter who they were, Fred treated everyone the same. After World War II ended, Fred and Lily decided to quit the Lodge, and sold it in 1946.

The 1950's - a New Lodge is Built

A new owner, Max Turvey, rebuilt the lodge on its present site in 1955 after first using the land to camp on during his fishing holidays. His wife wasn't keen on fishing so he built her a little shop and the five cabins to "give her something to do". There were no cooking facilities, but each cabin had a pot-belly fire.

Several owners later, in the early 1980's, the lodge was owned by Peter and Colleen Taylor who later established the highly successful Scenic Cellars in Taupo. The lodge then supported a dairy, Post Office and 5 self contained cabins.

More Recently

In 1987, the Lodge was purchased by Tom and Diane Pearce, farmers from the Waitotara Valley. In January 1991, the Pearces employed new managers, Roger and Sue Stubbs. They closed the dairy, turning it into a fishing tackle shop, also hiring out fly rods, waders and small aluminium dinghies for fishing.

Then in early 1994, the Pearce's auctioned the property and Steve and Marjorie McCarthy became the new owners. Steve was a keen gardener and had the grounds looking like an English country garden. Steve and Marjorie owned and operated the lodge until around 1999.

Another auction, a new owner and a small succession of different couples to take on the lease but the lodge needed upgrading and in 2005 the owner decided to again put it up for auction. It was a spur of the moment decision at the auction that saw it sold to Dot Townshend of Napier, who was only at the auction by chance and had no intention of bidding. Regardless of the state it was in, she could see the obvious - to retain a piece of New Zealand's history.

Several years later, 2008 to be exact, Sue & Roger came back. When they left in 1994 , they always hoped to be back. As luck would have it, Dot was urgently looking for someone to take on the lease. The decision was a no brainer, the timing right, so they packed up and came back for 10 years.

Here and Now

And true to fashion, October 2018, Anthony & Bron (us) did exactly the same thing as Sue & Roger. The opportunity was too exciting for us to turn down, so we packed up our whole lives in 2 weeks, left Feilding, and moved to take on the new lease. Anthony predominantly comes from a farming background, plus owned his own contracting company fencing & building, for over 15 years. Bron, also a country girl, spent the last 22 years working for Broadspectrum NZ, and before that, 10 years in the Royal New Zealand Navy. We have 3 adult boys, who much to their delight, got left behind in our family home, in Feilding.

The Future

Together with Dot's backing, and paintbrush and shovel in hand, we are giving it the attention it needed. Even though the improvements are necessary, it will always retain the character of the "Classic Kiwi Bach"

Waitahanui lodge provides something that is becoming increasingly rare in New Zealand, an environment that takes you back to a time when holidays were simpler and more relaxing. George Hickton, Wellington, New Zealand