Historic lodge bites the dust

JACQUIE WEBBY
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
sefton lodge
ALL GONE: The demolition of Sefton Lodge is almost complete.

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A building linked to New Zealand climbing history has been demolished, after an offer to the Department of Conservation from the building owner apparently went unanswered.

Sefton Lodge, the oldest building in the Aoraki Mt Cook village, was owned by The Hermitage, whose general manager, Nigel Harper, said the building was offered to DOC, which "did not respond to the offer".

"Some of the materials, such as flooring timber, was given to DOC, the concrete foundations have been crushed and reused, and the area where the building was previously located will initially be used for parking until we decide on a new use," he said. Mr Harper declined to comment further.

DOC acting conservation services manager Aoraki/Mount Cook Mike Davies said Sefton Lodge was not registered with the Historic Places Trust but was identified in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park Management Plan as a "known or historic site".

"This is a nationally significant part of New Zealand's history."

According to Mr Davies, Aoraki/Mount Cook Alpine Village Ltd (AMCAVL) has a lease with DOC that includes the land on which Sefton Lodge was located.

"AMCAVL had indicated their interest in demolishing Sefton Lodge to make way for another development and they offered the building to DOC but we were not in a position to make use of it," he said.

"A DOC report identified that the building had historic value and the department was interested to know whether AMCAVL would consider this historic value as a development and/or partnership opportunity based around options of upgrading and reusing the existing building or making it available to others to remove it for similar purposes.

"DOC outlined this in a letter dated October 21, 2013, and stated that if the options are not of interest to AMCAVL then the next option was the demolition of the building.

"Their [AMCAVL's] response was that they had no use for the building and DOC was welcome to take any material before demolition occurred," Mr Davies said.

The building's historic ties to the area include its use by climbers Sir Edmund Hilary, Harry Ayres and the Graham Brothers. The sight of the building being demolished was greeted by resident Mary Hobbs with sadness.

"I first heard about it when the bulldozer came on the scene," she said.

"It is a sad loss; the building housed history."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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