Story: Nelson places



The Tophouse hotel was built in 1887, and the building still offers accommodation in 2010. The Tophouse area was the site of an accommodation house from the 1850s. The Tophouse pass is a natural low pass between the Wairau, Motupiko and Buller river valleys. It was commonly used by Māori before Europeans arrived. The name ‘Tophouse’ arose in the 1850s, as the accommodation house was the farthest inland on the overland route from Blenheim to Nelson. It was an important access way to the Wairau, and later to Canterbury, for droving stock.

The hotel is infamous for a double murder–suicide in 1894. Bill Bateman, brother-in-law of the Tophouse hotel’s owner at the time, murdered two men and then shot himself. The bullet holes are still visible in the verandah roof.

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Tophouse Historic Homestead

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Nelson places - Nelson lakes', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2024)

Story by Carl Walrond, updated 22 Apr 2015