160 years of history has been infused with love, a whole lot of paint, refined décor, and whimsy—it’s where an adult Alice would settle after Wonderland. It’s well hidden, tucked away in the North End, so no Tweedledees or Tweedledums will follow you in. Instead, you might meet a resident fantail or tui in the expansive Mediterranean feeling gardens.
Built in 1861, originally as a home for a British gentleman called Mark Noble, Casa Nova House features on the earliest plans before the town of Ōamaru was actually chartered. Mr. Noble only resided in the house for a few years, then moved on to Italy with his new wife, which is why Casa Nova House is so aptly named. “Its name means new home,” owner Katrina said, “Not Casanova the playboy, contrary to some online real estate blurbs.”
Heritage New Zealand awarded Casa Nova House Category 1 status, which is reserved for historic places of special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value to New Zealand. Katrina and her wife Brenda vowed to honour the history when taking on the herculean challenge of restoring the historic building, “You can’t get that history back and as the oldest Oamaru stone mansion building in the Waitaki District it needs to be protected.”
Katrina and Brenda are seasoned operators, both with backgrounds in hospitality. They own the renowned restaurant Poco Loco in Pukekohe and oversee it’s operations from the South Island with assistance from their expert team in Auckland.
It was the Otago Rail Trail that led Katrina and Brenda to their bed and breakfast adventures in the Waitaki, “It was the most expensive trip of our lives. We finished the Trail and drove through Ōamaru, looked at two properties, then came back a week later for Casa Nova House and started the journey.” The love for Casa Nova House was instant, “We drove in, walked through the front door and I asked the real estate agent ‘where’s the contract’, she thought I was joking.”
Refurbishing the historic building into high end accommodation was a lengthy journey, but the results are stunning. The three guest bedrooms are luxurious daydreams, “We want people to feel at home in our home but have an experience with us which will create a lasting memory.” From the velvet curtains to the wallpaper made of per magic right down to the light switches, every single detail has been meticulously thought of. The trays even match the wallpaper! Step into the spacious shower and you’ll discover the Casa Nova House logo has been etched into the tile in the back.