History of the Puketapu


stage coach near PuketapuThe Puketapu is situated nine miles north-west from Napier, in Hawkes Bay. Puketapu played a vital role in early times. It was a major crossroads and staging point where the stage coaches, mail coaches, horse and bullock trains all met up before branching off on their respective journeys to Taihape, Rissington, Puketitiri, Taupo, Wairoa and Gisborne.

The Puketapu area takes its name from the small hill situated on the banks of Tutaekuri. The literal translation of the Maori work Puketapu is Sacred Hill (Puke means Hill, Tapu is sacred). It appears the area was named Puketapu as the local Maori people at Waitangi near Clive noticed that the river was stained red with blood. Upon investigation they found that a massacre had taken place on this hill and the blood of those killed ran down into the river, and so a Tapu was set on the hill.

‘The Puketapu” previously known as the Puketapu Hotel and Pheasants nest was established in 1885 by Mr Frederick Thomas Bradley. At the time of its initial establishment in contained twenty bedrooms, two parlours and a dining room.


The Puketapu Hotel pre 1909



The Puketapu Hotel has been the hub of this small country community since it was first built back in 1885. At the time it was the first ‘horse change’ and ‘breakfast stop’ for coach journeys en-route to Taupo following their tidal crossing from the port of Napier. Over its life the Hotel has seen many changes. Significant renovations in 1906 were totally destroyed by fire in 1909.

Puketapu history- a huge blaze pdf-page-001

In 1970 the larger public bar was added and renovations continue to be made by the current owners today. One of these includes the addition of a restaurant.