History, charm, good food & glorious views

Russell Boat Club is just across the bay
Matauwhi Bay & Arcadia c1910
Matauwhi Bay & Arcadia c1910

Matauwhi Bay and Arcadia Lodge

A history of fine accommodation

According to tribal traditions Pewhairangi (The Bay of Islands) was one of the very early sites of Maori settlement in Aotearoa (New Zealand); the local peoples trace their origins from Kupe, the Polynesian voyager credited with the first circumnavigation of the North Island.

The bay had been heavily settled by Maori for hundreds of years before Europeans arrived. On sailing into the bay in 1769 Captain Cook reported:

The Inhabitants of this Bay are far more numerous than at any place we have yet been in and seem to live in friendship one with another.

At the time of European settlement our bay, Matauwhi Bay, was the site of a maori village and the pa (fortified village) of Nagti Manu chief Pomare. The bay remained sparsely settled for most of the 19th century; then around 1900 the Reverend Boler, Anglican pastor to Russell built the house that is now Arcadia Lodge.

One of the whalebone foundations

One of the whalebone foundations

Its floors, structural posts and beams are of local heart kauri and many of the components were salvaged from shipwreck and demolition timbers (totara, puriri and jarah) with whale vertebrae even used to support the floor bearers. When we had the foundations redone we discovered two whale bones still in place and you can see one of them in the living room.

Over the past 100 years the Lodge has had many additions and changes which have all added to its unique charm and character. It became a guesthouse in 1925 and has been hosting visitors ever since.