We learnt today that one of the city’s long standing holes will finally be filled in. Many people (including myself) have never known it any other way but it hasn’t always been a carpark. The building that used to be on the site – the Royal International Hotel – was demolished in the 1987 just one month before the stock market crash. There were plans at the time for a 32 storey tower.  I can’t find anything from just before it was demolished but here’s what the building that occupied the site used to look like in 1905.

Royal Hotel, Auckland. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 3. Ref: PAColl-5671-26. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23009547
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  1. Ah but this wasn’t the last Royal International on this site- i remember a cool 60s one with a ‘crazy paving’ exposed stone fireplace- vaguely; I would have been underage. Some one must have a pic?

    Best image I can find:

    1. My Dad used to take us there sometimes as children – not sure why? Maybe for lunch? I think it had some sort of garden area with a waterfall.

    2. Hi Patrick , Greg and all. From my research (and I’m only guessing at this point) the modern “extension” to the Royal International Hotel – the sort of Modern bit, wasn’t built..? It only appears as a drawing in all the images I can find .! ( I wasn’t in Auckland until 90s..)
      If it was built why is it no photos exist.? ps I can’t access Greg N ‘s images..

  2. Yes, Patrick; the Royal International (about 1962) was Henry Kelleher’s great, refurbished attempt to give Auckland a modern hotel hence the crazy stone street facade. Inside it remained pretty 19th century which may explain why it was so popular with a certain National party politician who seems to have patronised it for its Wildean undertones!

  3. This Whites Aviation Photo here has a photo from 1947 looking down Victoria from opposite the Hotel, so you can see the white facade on Victoria St side quite clearly.

    Its named “WAITEMATA ROYAL HOTEL”, with the “Waitemata” clearly newer than the “Royal Hotel” lettering (i.e. a different font – Helvetica v. Serif font and Dark WAITEMATA versus faded ROYAL HOTEL).
    So obviously a recent rename job.

    See: http://tapuhi.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/spydus/NAV/GLOBAL/OPHDR/1/1353235 for the record details

    This link is for the zoomable picture: http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/content-aggregator/getIEs?system=tapuhi&id=1353235

    Photo credit: Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, description “Victoria Street from the west side, looking towards Albert Park, Auckland”

    Patrick/Matt – I assume you can if you need to, download and embed the photo in the post somehow?

      1. Nice, thanks for that.
        I see the “corner” facade/tower has been removed in this photo, compared to the 1905 photo, anf the top crenelations or whatever they are are gone too.
        But the essence of the building remains in this 1947 image, and I gather from Christopher T’s comment – into the 1962 version as well.

      2. Its also interesting how uncluttered the street looks in 1952 without the painted medians and white lane markings, arrows, and car parking and also you don’t notice the overhead wires for the trams either.
        All in all a clean looking street even with the cars parked on it – will we ever manage to get it back to this look in the future?

        1. Trolley bus wires perhaps? There’s no rails, and my “tram bible” with all of NZ’s tram routes doesn’t show them running on Victoria Street.

          1. Steve – You are right. The wires are trolley bus wires for the Farmers free trolley bus on its return journey from Farmers Department Store to its city bus stop immediately around the corner from Queen Street at the bottom of Wyndham Street.

        1. There is something very satisfying about the scale of the older picture – nice uneven roof lines – not too tall – interestingly detailed facades – no bland glass clad buildings in sight – a really human scale – eminently suitable for people !!

  4. Yes, the site of the Royal International in the first part of the 20th century was a series of shops. Check out the 1908 City of Auckland Map on the Council Archives site, and photo 1-W939 on Heritage Images Online (which you’ll find by just searching for Royal International) .

  5. I remember having green beer in there one St. Patrick’s day. The old pub was a hell of a lot better looking than the ugly building that was demolished in 1987.

    Now there is just the old Auckland Star site to go! That’s another disgraceful blot on Auckland City’s “planners”.

    1. Well I think the problem is that we don’t charge enough rates on at grade car parking so we incentive land owners to demolish difficult buildings and rent out the rubble for parking… or perhaps we over value old underperforming buildings so their rating bill is out of proportion to their income potential…. somewhere in there there is the ability to help to maintain the built fabric of the city.

      1. Some councils (Ruapehu District, for example) charge rates only on the unimproved value of land, which provides an incentive to keep sites in use. Same dollar value of rates whether you use the land for car parking or a building.

        It seems bizarre, really, that we levy a tax on property that depends on whether it’s possible to move that property or not. Build a $200,000 house, it attracts rates. Park $200,000 worth of cars on a lot, and you don’t pay anything for that value. If we’re charging for the value that people get from council services, the land value reflects that more accurately, and economists generally think it’s more efficient – since land can’t be created or destroyed, a land tax creates no damaging perverse incentives.

        1. Yes, that’s common practice in many countries, even for residential. Eg my mum moved to another apartment, and the house was until sold empty. So we had to pay double rates. Would not be a bad idea for AKL too. I see every day when heading to work so many sites either used as car park, or even worse really run down and abandoned.

  6. It has been a carpark for as long as I remember – although I am technically old enough to remember its previous state. Way past time that something decent was built there.

  7. My parents were licencees of the Royal Holel from 1940 to 1948 from memory, it was one of the leading hotels in Auckland at that time, it was an exciting time to growup there during the war years, I was 17 when we left there I was always sad that it was demolished it was lovely in it’s day.

  8. I worked there as a night porter about 1985. It was haunted. I have often wondered what those spirits did all this time while it was only a hole in the ground with parked cars.

  9. Val, When we lived in the hotel there were no buses, only trams in Queen St., the middle of Victoria St. Was taken up with trucks parked in a line waiting for cartage work, hard to believe now, sometimes there were 20 or so waiting.

  10. Does anyone remember a young Hungarian male, who worked in the Bistro of the hotel in 1963 and possibly went on to open his own restaurant. Just a long shot, am trying to track down my husband’s birth father. That’s the only information we have on him unfortunately.

  11. The Royal International Hotel’s revamp in 1962/63 followed on from the re-branding of the Commercial Hotel in Shortland St to De Bretts (DB) ..
    Many of the same people were involved, including Scarborough Bros. stonemasons who did the amazing bistro rock wall, fountain and exterior stonework that went around the corner from Victoria St into Elliott..
    It also probably had a mural by James Turkington somewhere in the place…?
    (pictures of the revamped hotel appear in the Herald of the time, and will later be on http://www.lostproperty.org.nz site after this years Heritage Festival exhibition about Scarborough Bros – at the Depot Gallery)

  12. I was born in 1977, and my dad (Neville Francis Markwell) was the manager for about 4-5 yrs after that.
    I have fond memories still of this place. I even have a ghost story from there.
    I’m deeply saddened that it has been demolished.

    1. I was saddened also when i saw the hotel not there anymore
      i worked at the Royal when you were very young you had a accident you fell over an put something through the roof of your mouth
      the hotel was a great place to work

  13. Alan Wall what an amazing memory you have .couldn’t believe what.i was reading . I am Andrew Markwell,s mother and remember the incident like it was yesterday . Plastic toy gun in his mouth and walked into the plate glass door ……. .ending in 5 stitches in roof off his mouth , very frightening….Loved our time in the hotel …. Big fish pond in reception . Which dep did you work in Alan .

    1. I started cleaning bars and stuff worked with the house mades also done room service when needed ended up as a kitchen hand i was young and i learned a lot from my time at the royal international hotel i remember you and your husband well i hope you and your family are well
      Regards Alan

    1. I live in Te Kuiti and yesterday found a dinner plate from the Royal Hotel which made me curious as to it’s history, and does it still exist (which I understand now that it has been demolished). I found your name on the comments about it and thought I’d start with you as i can’t find any info at the moment. I was born in Auckland in 1948 but moved to the King Country with my parents when I was 5 yrs old. Perhaps there may even be a ‘collector’ out there, so may put it on TradeMe to sell. – Jan

  14. In my late grandparent’s belongings, I found two New Year’s Eve Party dinner menu’s from 1942 & 1944. I am assuming that the dinner’s were hosted by Mr. & Mrs. J. Lineen’s as these names are printed in the dinner menus. The 1942 dinner menu has Royal Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand on it. The 1944 dinner menu has Waitemata Royal Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand on it. Very nice and elegant dinner menu’s I have.

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