-Tophouse reopened in July 2015 under new management-
Tophouse near St Arnaud was established in 1887 to accommodate drovers travelling between Nelson and Canterbury. Today Tophouse operates as a guesthouse, cafe and tiny bar. The white washed walls cover a mix of cow manure, horse hair, straw and sand used in its construction.
The tiny bar at Tophouse is an addition to the building, it could squeeze in a standing dozen with the front lawn handling the over flow (insect repellent recommended). The bar started serving alcohol again in 2008 after 39 dry years. It was too early in the day to raise a glass for us so instead we had morning tea in the old fashioned dining room. A warm welcome and good scones will see us return another time for a drink in one of New Zealand’s smallest bars.
Tophouse’s history makes engaging reading – it’s connected to a tragic crime of passion committed in 1894, bullet holes in the verandah are a lasting reminder.
Tophouse may also have a resident ghost, a peddler named Sidney Smith died in the hotel in the 1890’s. Sidney has apparently been contacted by a clairvoyant and he said “it’s warm, comfortable and welcoming so I will be staying around”. I’m sure the owners would like Sidney to pay in real rather than ghost dollars but he may attract curious ghost busters who’d like to stay the night. There’s one single and one double room in Tophouse as well as ghost free self contained chalets.
Tophouse is a piece of history worth visiting, but if the gramophone in the guest lounge starts playing, beware, it doesn’t have a needle, Sidney may be at work.