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The Nelson Photo News



Kaiteriteri Beach for £140!

Just before the turn of the century, a retired Indian Army officer, a Captain Daniels, bought a 360-acre block of land in the Kaiteriteri Beach area. He did little with it and the land remained for the most part a wilderness of scrub and bush. Then in 1916 undeterred by the laughter and jeers of his acquaintances, Mr Syd Rowling bought this block (which included the whole of Kaiteriteri Beach). It cost him one hundred and forty pounds! Today, a fifth of an acre of land with a good frontage on to the beach sells for anything up to $3500. Until 1930 there was not a road into the beach. But Mr Rowling was a far-sighted man who recognised the tremendous potential of the beach and planned for the day it would become a holiday resort. In 1935 he sold 12 acres of the beach area to the Domains Board (for about six hundred pounds) and people stopped laughing, and for a time he ran his own motor camp at a cost to the traveller of 4s.6d. a week.

Today, his son and wife, Mr and Mrs Athol Rowling, are approaching the climax of 20 years of hard work they have put into the site of their motel complex. They have converted part of the overgrown hill land into an exotic garden as a setting for the seven motel blocks. The picture Above was taken after seven huts were erected on to the sites in 1949. The one Below, from a similar position, was taken earlier this month.


Mr and Mrs Rowling also recognised the potential of the beach, and in 1949 Mr Rowling took the first steps in establishing what is now a lucrative motel business.

His first huts were originally used as huts for workers constructing the Appleby Bridge. He bought the lot by tender and brought thern to Kaiteriteri. The land was a wilderness. Without the aid of machinery, the two of them set to work clearing the mess and gradually the sites were prepared and the huts placed on them. The picture at Left, copied from an original, gives some idea of the wilderness of the area at the time. The picture Below shows the sites from the air. And, of course, the couple at the Top are Alma and Athol Rowling.


Athol's brother, Bill, gave Kaka Pah Point to the Domains Board in 1942 for development into a picnic area (he loved this lookout so much he felt it should be preserved for the benefit of all rather than for the few with the money to buy the land).

The huts served the Rowlings, and the tourists, well in the intervening years. But huts they were and huts they could not stay forever, notwithstanding the homeliness of them. And so Athol embarked on a programme of reconstruction and this year he demolished the last hut. In their places he has erected modern motel blocks. And he did all the building himself. As he worked on the motels, Mrs Rowling got her green fingers to work and landscaped and planted the 8-acre block in native, alpine and tropical shrubs and flowers. When we left him, Athol was preparing the foundations of the last of the motel blocks. When it is completed, so will end a story begun 54 years previously. Above is a picture of the motels' site before any clearing work was done.


Another Rowlings' venture was the introduction of the water taxi-a service which caters for the tourist needs of thousands each year