Hulbert House – More than just somewhere to stay


Nestled atop a hill overlooking Queenstown, the captivating history of Hulbert House unfolds like a rich tapestry, woven with tales of prominent individuals, architectural transformations, and shifting fortunes.

The saga began in 1871 when the land was granted to Michael John Malaghan, the esteemed proprietor of the Prince of Wales (Mountaineer) Hotel and soon-to-be mayor. Despite the lack of a formal Certificate of Title until 1876, it is believed that during Malaghan’s ownership, a distinctive two-room cottage with a mono pitched roof was erected—a rarity for its time in Queenstown.

In 1874, the cottage underwent a metamorphosis, adding a wooden verandah, a stone extension at the rear, and a unique double-pitched extension on the south side. The subsequent owner, Philip Boult, contributed a stone mono pitched addition in 1882, showcasing architectural innovations ahead of its time.
The landscape changed hands in 1886, finding itself in the possession of Horatio Nelson Firth. The transition marked a period of gradual decommissioning, evident in the dismantling of chimneys and the clearing of the site, except for the resilient stone service range at the rear. The grand transformation began in 1888, culminating in the construction of a substantial timber villa—one of Queenstown’s largest residences at the time. The villa’s completion heralded extensive landscaping, including a retaining wall behind the stone service range and a charming timber addition to the north.

As the 20th century dawned, Hulbert House witnessed a series of ownership changes, each chapter bringing a new purpose and a unique tale. From a family home in 1889 to a boarding house in 1901, and later a private nursing home in 1924. In 1964, the Salvation Army took the reins, followed by subsequent owners like Harry Ashurst, Alex Arnott, and O’Connells Hotel. By 1981, under Edward Sturt’s ownership, the house underwent substantial repairs, restoring its grandeur as a family home and bed-and-breakfast.

The 21st century brought new life to Hulbert House, transforming it into a backpackers’ hostel in 2009, and later, in 2013, the property found a devoted custodian in its present owner.

Recent archaeological endeavours have unveiled layers of history, confirming the site’s evolution from the humble cottage to the grand villa.

Today, the house stands as a testament to resilience, restoration, and the enduring spirit of Queenstown’s architectural legacy.
Every detail in Hulbert House is designed to let you think differently, think slower, and appreciate the smaller details that create a richer experience. Hulbert House is owned by STILL a unique New Zealand company that pursues projects that amplify the fundamentals of human nature, creating the extraordinary from the everyday.

Hulbert House is operated in partnership with Brook Serene who care for a carefully curated selection of hotels in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations.


Soichiro Fukutake is the former Chairman of Japan’s Benesse Holdings Inc. is the visionary behind the revitalisation of remote islands in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea into a world-class art destination, known as Naoshima Art Site Benesse. Based in New Zealand since 2009

He took over the restoration of Hulbert House (and partnered with the Karamura family) As a leading Japanese businessman who has chosen New Zealand as his home, yet he still wields art to encourage society to reuse what exists rather than waste resources and this is at the heart of the restoration of Hulbert House; the community.
Mr Fukutake on  public – interest
“I’m neither a philanthropist nor a critic but a regional entrepreneur. I
know that corporations are the main engine creating almost all wealth
in society, but my ambitions are diametrically opposed to financial
capitalism that has taken the global economy to the brink of collapse.
“People cannot attain spiritual fulfilment through economic activity
alone. The economy should exist to create and support good communities
where people can find happiness – a society filled with smiling happy seniors.
“Under my public-interest capitalism system, corporations would establish
foundations to make systematic contributions to society through
culture. Such a new partnership between culture and corporations
would promote community revitalization.”

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