home | newsletters  | historic sites | weddings  | projects | become a supporter | contact us | photo gallery  | links | sponsors

Historic Sites at Burkes Pass Township

The Burkes Pass Heritage Walk  is a journey of discovery. It is a marked grass track that meanders through the village providing a valuable insight into the rich history of the town that played an important role in shaping the pioneering settlement of the Mackenzie Country. Pick up a brochure at the church or the Musterer’s Hut.
 

 

St Patrick’s Church

 St Patricks is a category one historic place registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

In 1871 the settlers recognised the need for public worship and at a meeting on August 26 decided to build a church for all denominations. Built by Timaru firm Ogilvie and Jones, the church was one of the earliest union churches in New Zealand and now is the oldest one remaining on its original site. It was opened in August 1872 on a bitterly cold day. Snow lay thick on the ground. Parishioners drove up to 25km in drays and spring carts to attend church services. They were devoted, as were the clergymen who rode in all weathers, often across flooded rivers, from Temuka or Geraldine to deliver their sermons. The land was donated by John Burgess the proprietor of the hotel.


Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\church\TN_church 9.JPG

The Musterer’s Hut

This is a replica hut built by the trust to honour the early workers. It contains old photos and stories and has a collection of many old hut “things” and an original fireplace. Outside in the wood shed is the original limestone horses trough used by teams of horses before they attempted the pass into the Mackenzie.

The Cemetery. There is many a story of pioneers at the cemetery. This cemetery was the only one for the Mackenzie and so includes several climbers from accidents at Mt Cook. Established on land donated by runholder A B Smith of Rollesby, the cemetery tells the difficult story of settlement; the struggles, hardship, and heartache of the pioneers who braved the harsh Mackenzie Country climate to carve out a new life in the wild, untamed landscape. Burials date from 1873.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\cemetry\TN_Cemetry 1.JPG

Hotel

The first hotel licence in the Mackenzie  was in July 1861 for a public house at Cabbage Tree Creek, Burkes Pass. It was opened by John Burgess. Conditions governing the licence required provision for four beds for travellers and yards for 50 cattle and 2000 sheep. The Burkes Pass Hotel, which was the heart of the community, was gutted by fire in October 1994.

The oak tree outside the remains of the hotel was planted on June 23, 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\hotel\TN_2002.JPG

 

Mt Cook Road Board Office

Local government began in the Mackenzie in 1864 with the establishment of the Mount Cook Road Board. The house was the first headquarters for the governing body. Built from concrete by Fairlie builder Thomas Foden, the house remains as a legacy of the political forefathers. (Locally it has been called The Stone House but it is made of concrete.)

The board held its first meeting in the building on June 6, 1876 and its last on October 19, 1891, voting to relocate to Fairlie which had displaced Burkes Pass as the business centre for the Mackenzie. The board was reconstituted as the Mackenzie County Council and then Mackenzie District Council. It is now a private home.

 

School & Schoolhouse

The Burkes Pass School (above left) and Schoolhouse (below right) were built in 1878. The school opened with a roll of 20 and two teachers in 1879. By 1898, the roll had grown to 53 and there were three teachers. Population drift to Fairlie saw the roll sink to nine in 1913 and the school close at the end of the year. It re-opened in March 1920 with 12 pupils but its existence was precarious, closing permanently in 1943. The building was given to the community in June 1958 for use as a hall. Today it is owned privately.

When the school closed, the schoolhouse was taken over by the YHA in 1958. There were 12 beds for men and six for women. In 1966, 651 people stayed at the hostel but by 1969 Burkes Pass was no longer a desirable stopover for travellers and the YHA closed. The building is now a private residence.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\school\TN_School 1.JPG

 

Cob Cottages

Alma Cottage

Bridget and James Keeffe built Alma Cottage (right) soon after arriving in New Zealand from London in 1876. It was built from a mixture of clay, chopped tussock, and manure - inexpensive and readily available materials that provided a well-insulated and solid home - using the pise technique of ramming the mixture between moveable shutters, building up layers as in a giant coil pot. Alma Cottage, the original farm buildings, and trees are protected by a heritage covenant and the cottage is registered with the Historic Places Trust and in the Mackenzie Council heritage schedule.

 

 

 

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\alma cottage.jpg
Alma Cottage

 

Elm Tree Cottage 

Elm Tree Cottage was built by William and Jane Anniss in the late 1870s. Known locally as Whyte’s Cottage for many years, Elm Tree Cottage has been repaired and is in good condition.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: G:\My documents\My Webs1\Burkes Pass Website new\photos\elm tree cottage.jpg
Elm Tree Cottage

The Anniss Cottage

John (William's brother) and Margaret Anniss worked at a number of jobs in the district including shepherding, working on the Rollesby road , and at the Burkes Pass and Tekapo Hotel. When they successfully won a balloted farm, Curraghmore Station, in 1911 the small cottage, close the Opihi River just north east of Alma Cottage, was no longer needed and the roofing iron was removed for reuse at the farm. The Heritage Trust has given it a roof that stands on poles. The cob work is now slowly being repaired.


Anniss Cottage

Highfield Cottage.

This is a delightful old cob cottage located near the Mt Dobson ski field road.  The Burkes Pass Heritage Trust has been working on maintenance and restoration since about 2000. It is not part of the Heritage Walk. See separate story.

Highfield Cottage