The Old Oak's History

The History of The Old Oak

Enjoy the comfort of your stay at The Old Oak knowing that the building itself is steeped in history in this fascinating area of The Far North. The Old Oak was built in 1861. The original owner and builder was a Scotsman, John McIntosh. Originally from Skipness, McIntosh had settled in nearby Whangaroa on property that provided the kauri timber that would be used for the construction of the hotel.

Census records at the time list McIntosh as a landowner and a boat builder, and the long life of the building attests to the expert craftsmanship those skills brought to its construction. McIntosh was also a businessman, and the hotel was shrewdly built around the time the Mangonui harbour settlement became established. 

Whaling started to decline in the area by the 1870s, but flax and kauri milling was taking off – bringing lots of thirsty patrons through the doors! Cargo vessels, such as the S.S Clansman, regularly ran liner routes from Auckland up through Russell in the Bay of Islands, with their final destination being Mangonui. Here they would unload cargo and passengers before reloading and heading back down the coast. This brought lots of crew and passengers ashore where they would eat and water at the Oak. 

Restoration of the Old Oak

In April 2009 construction began on the restoration and remodel of what had been The Old Oak Inn. The building was tilting, as you can see in the first photograph, and the first task was re-piling. Smart engineering of the process was essential so as to avoid any damage to the historic building. Wayne Brown (long before his mayoral days) and his builders guided the work through four weeks of particularly cold weather. Once level, the work began on the interior where all new units in the back section of the building were constructed, and rooms in the front section were remodelled. New plumbing, electrical, and insulation was added throughout. In late November the construction was complete. It was a monumental project, but those efforts have ensured the preservation of this beautiful building for another 100 years.