Built in 2007, The Rees Hotel Queenstown is a sophisticated five-star hotel situated right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, in the South Island of New Zealand.
The Rees offers a variety of spacious fully air-conditioned and, luxurious accommodation options including 60 Hotel rooms, 90 Apartments and five private, 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom Lakeside Residences, all with terraces, showcasing spectacular views across Lake Wakatipu to the alpine panorama of the Remarkable Mountain range.
The many exceptional features at The Rees Hotel include a library of rare books and art, courtesy shuttle to/from Queenstown town centre, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, movies and local telephone calls, conference rooms, a fully-equipped gymnasium, secure undercover parking, electric car-charging station and its own private beach and wharf accessing jet-boat and water taxi services. Guests can swim from our wharf or beach – but it’s not for the faint-hearted!
Our team of experienced local and international staff pride themselves on delivering professional friendly service that consistently exceeds our guests’ expectations and is a hallmark of The Rees Hotel’s reputation.
Quiet, private and sophisticated, The Rees Hotel Queenstown epitomises southern hospitality at its finest and an authentic New Zealand experience.
The Rees Team
Mark Rose - Chief Executive
Micka McDonald - Executive Assistant Manager
Micka worked as a Night Auditor to finance her Media Production course by day, which in turn, became the topic for most of her assessments as her experience working alone in a 3 star hotel on Elizabeth Street, Melbourne at The Hotel Y, (the old YMCA) was eventful every night. Hospitality lead Micka on her OE as she travelled around Canada working in reception roles in Hotels and Resorts in Jasper National Park and Sun Peaks Resort, then back to Australia to Far North Queensland taking on Supervisor roles at the Radisson Treetops resort and DayDream Island.
Micka was lured to Queenstown to work as a Duty Manager at The Heritage Hotel, before being promoted into the role of Reservations & Yield Manager which she held for 8 years. Micka began working at the Rees Hotel Queenstown in November 2014 as Front Office Manager. She brings 20 years of hospitality experience with her and is still challenged on a day to day basis.
Micka was recently promoted to Executive Assistant Manager in February 2022.
Fleur Templeton - Human Resources Manager
Fleur joined the team in May 2022. She brings a wealth of senior HR experience across a number of industries, including working with one of NZ’s fastest growing law firms for eight years prior to relocating to Queenstown in late 2020. She’s no stranger to the hotel industry with over ten years of hotel management experience and is delighted to be back in hospitality again.
Fleur’s focus is on delivering the right people into the right jobs and creating a working environment which provides a strong sense of belonging, purpose and wellbeing.
When she’s not at work, Fleur can be found walking or e-biking the trails around Queenstown and pottering in the garden.
Lucas Fornes - Financial Controller
Lucas joined The Rees in April 2022. Lucas is a Qualified Accountant with more than 20 years of experience across a broad range of accounting, financial and administrative activities having worked in Argentina, U.S., and NZ.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lucas first arrived in NZ in 2002 for holidays. In 2004, He settled in Queenstown permanently.
Lucas loves biking, swimming and outdoors. He is an active member of the community and, is one of the founder members of the first Open Water Swimming Club in Lake Whakatipu.
Sharon Preston - Executive Housekeeper
Andrew Oxenbury - Maintenance Manager
Andrew joined The Rees Team in July 2022 directly from Swiss-Belsuites Pounamu where he held the role of Maintenance Manager.
Prior to that, he was Maintenance Manager Pinewood Lodge Queenstown and, has hotel experience with Rydges Lakeland Resort, Queenstown.
Andrew has lived in Queenstown for over nine years with his family.
Fenna Neumann - Front Office Manager
Born and raised in Germany, Fenna joined The Rees Hotel Queenstown in mid 2016 as a Front Office Duty Manager and quickly developed into the role of Reservations Executive before being promoted to Front Office Manager in February, 2022. With a passion for hospitality, she started her career in 2011 at the 5-star A-Rosa Resort in Sylt, Germany and graduated in 2014 from a German Hospitality School with Excellence. The Front Office department quickly became her new calling, with work experience from 5-star hotels such as the Grande Roche Hotel, in Cape Town, South Africa and The Hilton (New Zealand). Fenna recently received her New Zealand Residency. She enjoys working with an energetic team at The Rees Hotel, Queenstown where she is empowered to take on new challenges.
Benjamin Moon - Executive Chef
Benjamin joined the team in September, 2023. He returns to his passion of cooking after a break from the busy kitchen of White and Wong’s Queenstown to build his Queenstown home. With years of experience as pre-opening Head Chef, Benjamin was also Executive Sous Chef at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Hotel.
He’s excited to be joining the True South team. Benjamin is looking forward to crafting dining experiences reflective of his style as well as that of our award-winning wine cellar and existing offering.
Esther Koh - Food and Beverage Manager
Esther brings with her over 10 years of hospitality and hotel experience. Esther is originally from Malaysia and started her hospitality journey with internships at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur & Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang. Esther joined us in August 2023 directly from the Cuisine hat-awarded White & Wong's Auckland Viaduct where she's worked in management since 2019.
Caroline Davidson - The Rees PR Director, Australia
After a period in international hospitality management for the Greater Union organization, Caroline began her own business, Davidson Communications Pty Ltd, in 1990. This successful public relations and destination marketing business specialises in the leisure, entertainment and tourism industries. In addition, Caroline’s versatile skills and first-class media relationships have been employed as a consultant strategist and a specialist PR expert to benefit a range of clients as diverse as Australian Federal Government programs and launches, national sporting events and festivals, innovative corporate product launches and celebrity profiling.
Caroline was a shareholder and Director of Public Relations for Select Hotels & Resorts International between 2004-2009, successfully re-branding and building an enviable profile for this marketing group for over 50 unique, high-end luxury accommodation experiences across Australia, New Zealand Asia and the Pacific. Caroline is a member of various PR Professional organisations and is the recipient of several PR Awards. Caroline is the MD of Davidson Communications Pty Ltd.
William Gilbert Rees
A short description on the life of William Gilbert Rees by Rosemary Marryatt (Great grand-daughter) of W. G. Rees | July 2023
The Early Years
Following the Wakatipu Basin gold rush in the mid-1860’s, King Wakatip was a term often used by the runholders, first businessmen and pioneer settlers of the Lake Wakatipu area. They were referring to the first European pioneer and founder of Queenstown, William Gilbert Rees.
Born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales on the 6th April 1827, (eldest son of Lieut. William Lee Rees RN and his wife Mary,) young William received his early education at his grandfather’s boarding establishment in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. It would have been his grandfather, George Pocock, who broke the sad news to William, that his father had died from Yellow Fever while commanding the Packet Ship Hope on its return trip from Mexico. William was twelve years old.
The Royal Naval School at Camberwell, London, (a school established for the sons of Royal Navy officers,) is where William completed his education. At the age of 15 years, he received the Bronze Royal Humane Society Medal for saving a man from drowning in the Hungerford Canal on the 27th June 1842. After studying and complete his engineering apprenticeship at the Pembroke Dock Yards. he accepted the position of Assistant Master at Mt. Radford School, Exeter.
Time in Australia
In March 1852 William and his cousin George Gilbert sailed for Australia. Here they spent many months travelling beyond the Blue Mountains, visiting, but not stopping at the Turon goldfields, and on to the sheep country of the Darling Downs. Here, a meeting with one of the youngest sheep station owners in New South Wales - George Gammie - led to a new direction that determined the future of William Gilbert Rees’s life. George, a Scotsman ten years older than William who, together with his brother John, had invested energy and foresight into building a portfolio of seven sheep stations on the Darling Downs.
George Gammie not only became a close friend of Rees, but also a financial backer to a plan that involved developing sheep stations in New Zealand. Another person, Lieut. Col. Grant after having retired from the British Army, came to Australia with an interest in investment ventures. The meeting of three gentlemen with like interests and confidence in the future of sheep farming, created the Grant-Gammie-Rees partnership. Rees, they decided, would be the working partner, while Grant and Gammie would be the backers of the enterprise.
Dalvey Run, Run 140, at Pomahaka was the first New Zealand sheep run that was signed off under Grant- Gammie-Rees partnership on the 21st July 1858. As the lease did not take effect until the 29th April, 1859 Rees had time to return to England and marry his cousin Frances Rebecca Gilbert, known to the family as Frankie. Two months after the marriage the newly-weds sailed for New Zealand.
New Zealand Life Begins
The year of 1859 was busy for Rees – organizing temporary accommodation, being with Frankie at the birth of their daughter Mary Rose, signing up for Dalvey Run, employing shepherds and securing then shearing his 3000 sheep on Coal Creek Station. By January 1860 Rees was ready to set off on his exploration into the hinterland of Central Otago.
A cavalcade of six men, 15 horses and a mule trekked from Dunedin to the base of Lake Hawea, via the Waitaki Valley. But only Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann carried on up the Cardrona Valley, then turning westwards and topping the Crown Range descended to Lake Wakatipu. Leaving their horses grazing on the flats they constructed a ‘moggie,’ (a raft made from driftwood and flax stalks bound with flax rope), they then paddled their way up the Lake to where Twelve Mile Bay is today, climbed the highest hill they could see, [Mt Crichton] and it was from here Rees then drew the first map of the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, noting bearings of mountains, two rivers and plentiful sheep country.
Their perseverance had awarded them the results they were looking for – land suitable for sheep. They returned to Dunedin, where Rees applied to the Waste Lands Board for Run 356, which he named the Shotover Run. The depasturing license was finally signed over to him after he had stocked it with his 3000 merino sheep, the flock having arrived at New Year 1861, after a six week trek from Waikouaiti.
The Home Station
By this time the Home Station was fully established [at today’s Queenstown] with staff and shearers quarters, a ‘futter’ (pataka, store house on stilts,) stockyard, milking yard, and a woolshed on the foreshore. [where Eichardt’s Hotel is today.] A home for Frankie and William and Mary Rose was established where a small creek [later called Horn Creek], enters the lake. It was made from Red Beech slats, puddled clay and tussock . Rees’s whale boat, the Undine, was moored at a small wharf facing the woolshed.
1861 may have brought rejoicing but it also brought sadness. Frankie gave birth to George Manning Rees, her second child, at Dunedin, on the 26th January 1861. He died three months later at Invercargill while she was on her way to the Lake. Another tragedy struck the Rees family when Frankie’s young brother John Gilbert drowned in the Molyneux River [now the Clutha River]. It was the 28th April and he was 20 years old.
Gold is Discovered.
One evening in August, Maori Jack, (also known as Jack Tewa), showed Rees a gold nugget he had gathered from the bed of the Arrow River. A gold rush began a few months later, and miners in their hundreds began to pour over Rees’s run, destroying his pastures, slaughtering his sheep, yet being utterly dependent on him to supply their needs of flour, tea and ‘baccy’. By November / December 1862, it was common for 200 to 300 miners to be lined up on the foreshore waiting for the Undine to arrive with their supplies.
On the 11th February Rees applied to the Waste Lands Board requesting his pre-emptive right to retain blocks of land around his homestead and out-station. He was turned down and on the 17th February 1863 the whole of the Wakatipu Basin was declared a goldfield.
With the loss of Run 356 Rees’s life changed from that point on. Even though he was still managing the Peninsular, Bucklerburn and Staircase Runs he threw his energy into public affairs. During Bishop Harper’s visit to the goldfields, he signed Rees’s license to be a lay reader in the Church of England. A church was completed by August, the timber from Rees’s mill on Pigeon Island. He had five boats on the lake hardly coping with the amount of cargo being shipped between Kingston [was St Johns] and Queenstown. His successful fundraising efforts enabled a hospital to be built in the area called Frankton , (named after Frankie.) It opened on the 2nd September 1863, with Mr Rees elected as the chairman of the Hospital Committee. The same month he was elected as the chairman of the Queenstown Improvement Committee, chairman of the Cricket Club, and in October, chairman of the Wakatipu Jockey Club, the Church of England committee member and a foundation member of the Ophir Masonic Lodge. On the15th July 1865 authorization was given for William Gilbert Rees to be a Justice of the Peace for the Colony.
Cricket and Other Interests
Rees had played cricket since he was a teenager with his Pocock, Grace and Gilbert Cousins in the Mangotsfield Cricket Club, and prior to leaving England in 1858 he was selected and played in the Bath XXII cricket team against the England United Eleven team. In his last year in Australia he and his cousin George Gilbert played for the New South Wales Cricket X1 at Sydney in the First Intercolonial Cricket Match, 14-16th January 1857, his cousin William Lee Rees being a member of the opposing Victoria team. So it was not surprising that Rees was chosen to play in the Otago Twenty-two cricket match against the visiting All England Cricket Eleven at Dunedin, on the 2nd – 4th February 1864. Rees dismissed both his cousin E. M. Grace (Teddy) and the captain George Parr with a spectacular catch.
Horse racing in Australia had been a success story for Rees due to his fine horse Buccaneer winning many races on the Goondiwindi tracks. After this horse was shipped to New Zealand Rees continued collecting guineas for wins. The race most talked about was on the Frankton Race Course when the jockey riding Buccaneer fell at the first jump, so Rees hopped on and won the steeplechase! There was a protest because Rees had not weighed in. He weighed in, (and was overweight), but Buccaneer was still given first place.
The Gold Rush
The Home Station, then called The Camp, was finally given the name Queenstown in January 1863, a growing, noisy town of about 500 people. By May there were 14,000 miners and residents on the goldfields. Rees was now a conveyor of gold to the foot of the Lake – the first shipment of 25,000 ounces, and the following week, 16,000 ounces. Rees’s house was not only a storehouse for miner’s food but also a storehouse for miner’s gold.
The need to shift their family to a quieter area resulted in the building of a house at The Falls, overlooking the Kawarau River. Here another three Rees daughters were born; Ethel Grace Rees, 21st December 1863, Mabel Rees, 14th April 1865 and Sarah Isabel, 25th November 1866.
In 1865 the seven year Grant-Gammie-Rees partnership came to an end. Because neither Grant nor Gammie, (now known as Gammie-Maitland) did not apply for a renewal, dissolution of the partnership was advertised In August. A new opportunity then presented itself to Rees when Robert Campbell M. H. R. offered him a managerial position in the Waitaki Valley at Otekaieke Station. Rees accepted.
Life After Queenstown.
On the 23rd April 1867, William and Frances Rees attended a farewell celebration, where they were presented with a purse of sovereigns and an illuminated address, signed by 91 of Queenstown’s male residents.
The Rees family spent the next seven years in the Waitaki Valley, five years on Otekaieke Station where two more children were born – Mildred Gertrude Rees 26th February 1869, and Charles Gilbert Rees 17th February 1870, and two years on Station Peak Station. Rees’s days of being a sheep manager ended in 1883 after having managed Galloway Station at Alexandra for eight years.
Rees, now 56 years old, was still a very fit man. Time for other pursuits such as painting, singing (whenever asked), attendance and participation at athletic events, and lots of cricket matches. Over the years until his death, he held a number of positions; Rabbit and Sheep Inspector at Clyde and South Canterbury, Sheep and Cattle Inspector for the Westland, Buller and Nelson Districts and in 1892 he took up the position of Inspector of Stock and Register of Breeds for the Wellington, Hutt Valley, and Wairarapa areas in the newly formed Department of Agriculture.
An unsuccessful operation for gall stones at Wairau Hospital, Blenheim resulted in William Gilbert Rees passing away on the 31st October 1898. He was buried at Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim. His wife Frances was buried alongside him after she died on the 24th March 1926.