One of the oldest and most architecturally revered historic homes in New Zealand – now operating as a high-end boutique lodge – has been placed on the market for sale.
Warwick House on the outskirts of Nelson was built in 1854 for successful English merchant Alfred Fell. Since then, the 810 square metre home has grown substantially and undergone several reincarnations.
At the turn of the 1900s the homestead was run as a gentlemen’s boarding house, before being converted into five apartment dwellings. Its current owners, Nick and Jenny Ferrier, bought Warwick House in 2002 and spent many of the subsequent nine years restoring the commanding residence back to its former glory.
The Historic Places Trust ranks Warwick house as a Category-Two registered building, and notes it is one of the largest examples of Victorian Gothic Revivalist architecture in New Zealand - sitting on 2,864 square metres of land.
The lodge now features six accommodation rooms – each with their own individual ensuites. Rack rates for the larger rooms range from $255 per night over winter up to $395 per night in the peak summer period.
The property is being marketed for sale by Bayleys Nelson through a price-by-negotiation process. Bayleys Nelson salesperson Nick Lambert said that while the Ferrier’s had been meticulous in their restoration of Warwick House, they had taken it as far as their enthusiasm allowed.
“There are 34 individual rooms within Warwick House – of which 14 have the potential to become bedrooms. There are an additional eight full bathrooms and two extra toilets,” Mr Lambert said.
“Expanding horizons even further, the original wing which is currently the owners’ home, could be converted into five additional suites. Resource consent is in place to build a self-contained apartment over the garage, where a new owner could relocate to.”
Mr Lambert said that alternatively, a more substantial house could be built on a vacant site on the eastern side of the property.
“The major focus for the current owners has been the restoration of the property. As a result, increasing accommodation and function revenues has very much played a secondary role as they brought Warwick House back to life,” he said.
“With all of the restoration work complete, and an established accommodation business operating, the opportunity now on offer now is to increase the size and scope of accommodation suites, and look at ancillary revenue streams – such as the acquisition of a liquor licence to utilise Warwick House as a wedding venue or conference retreat.”
Mr Lambert said that to support this transition, the lodge’s 100 square metre grand ballroom - featuring an ornate kauri ceiling, 10 metre long solid kauri beams and an enormous Czechoslovakian chandelier – could easily fulfil the role of a wedding reception room or conference hall. The room has already been utilised for functions such as musical recitals, murder/mystery dinners, and high teas.
“Immediately adjacent to the ballroom is a 32 square metre ‘catering room’ as it would have been known in Victorian times,” he said. “The room is already fitted out with a commercial-grade hot water heater, stainless steel sinks and service areas, dishwasher and mid-sized refrigeration unit. An existing doorway provides access to the rear courtyard for food delivery.”
An intimate reception library within Warwick House can also accommodate up to six guests in a variety of seating formats for smaller corporate meetings or as a break-out room from the main grand ballroom. The substantial residence is heated by a mix of diesel, wood and gas burners, while all bathrooms, laundries and the kitchen areas have been re-plumbed.
In recognition of the vast amount of restoration work done on Warwick House, the Ferriers won the Heritage Sites section of Tasman District Council’s Environment Awards in 2009. Meanwhile, work undertaken on the outside of the property over the past several years has underscored the hotel’s attraction as a wedding reception venue.
“Extensive gardening around the home’s entry grounds has produced not only an impressive array of flowering shrubs, old-fashioned perennials, and mature trees, but also such photographic features as an attractive curved stone path, archway, and sheltered spots for guests. Just the sort of backdrops wedding photographers seek,” Mr Lambert said.