Work has begun on rebuilding Waitomo Caves' iconic Curly's Bar, just over a year after it was razed to the the ground by fire.
Livingstone Building began laying the foundations for a new 400 square metre building on the site of the old 1970s style bar this month, and tenants Ian "Curly" McElrich and Chris "Crusty" Dimond have been told it should be ready by Easter.
The bar was reduced to ashes on November 22, 2012, when Mr McErlich, who is also a volunteer firefighter, found the kitchen aflame.
He tried to put out the flames with a fire blanket, extinguishers and hose, but was overcome by the intensity of the blaze.
"The boys came and dragged me out and told me I was a silly old bugger for trying to do what I was doing, but it didn't matter. I couldn't do any more," he said at the time.
The business partners had originally hoped to reopen in the new year.
Mr McElrich referred the Waikato Times to project manager Vance Winiata who spoke on behalf of the owners the Tanetinorau Opataia Whanau Trust.
Mr Winiata acknowledged the delay.
"The delay in getting out of the ground was due to requirements being satisfied with the insurer to ensure we were building an equivalent building within the sum insured before we could obtain any certainty as to available funds for the build.
"External materials will be coloursteel with timber decking and the interior will have feature exposed trusses and a coloured concrete floor," Mr Winiata said.
"From the main bar/restaurant area will be generous window and bifold doors to a large partly covered deck.
"The new building has decking and will be built in modern materials."
Mr McElrich and Mr Dimond had input in the design and wanted some changes, compared to the original building, to reflect industry standards.
"The design is not so specialised to allow flexibility for a future alternative use," Mr Winiata said.
In the 13 months since the fire the business partners have been quenching the thirst of backpackers in their Kiwi Paka backpackers bar.
- Waikato Times