Stepping back in time

The grand and historic Royal Mail Hotel building was built in the early days of Southland’s history.

Initially established as a lodging and stables for travellers and runholders, it really saw its heyday with the arrival of the railway. While the town around her has grown and changed, The Royal Mail has been a constant; holding her place and name for more than 130 years. 

Her Early Beginnings

Far removed from its present-day role as a farm service center for the western Waimea Plains, Lumsden has had remarkable change over the past century. The Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu tribes fought on the nearby Five Rivers plain about 300 years ago. European settlers took up land in the district in 1861 bringing the first establishments of farms and commerce.  This growth saw the influx of families, businesses, and the construction of the stately Royal Mail Hotel where she still stands today.

Early Publicans

Throughout her 130-year history, the Royal Mail Hotel has had many owners…all with their own histories and colorful stories.  One such owner was James and Helena Selwyn.  Owning the hotel for only two years in 1890 before being declared bankrupt, the Selwyns continued to live in the Lumsden area for generations to come.  

The Railway Era

The railway lines reaching Lumsden from Invercargill in 1878 and Gore in 1880 forever changed the landscape of the growing town.  The town immediately became a rail junction that forever sealed its important role in northern Southland.  Rail services stopped in 1971, but the station building stands today and remains a major visitor’s destination in the centre of town. 

Modern Times

Our grand lady,  surviving and thriving into her second century, has seen numerous upgrades and renovations.   She has been tastefully modernized while retaining her charm from a bygone era.