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Historic cottage gets new lease on life

10 September 2012

Historic cottage gets new lease on life

Afternoon tea at their favourite Queenstown café set the wheels in motion for a life changing event for Andrew Murray and Linda Chase.

Long-time fans of hidden gem café Vesta Design Store, the pair took a visiting friend for “the best coffee in Queenstown”, heard the business was for sale and didn’t take long to decide to buy it.

The couple had always loved the picturesque cottage, just a stone’s throw from the shore of Lake Wakatipu, and could see the potential the historic building offered as home to a range of New Zealand-inspired design wares.

Located in Williams Cottage, one of Queenstown’s most significant historic buildings (and the town’s oldest residential building) that stands as a showcase of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it’s now stocked with a range of contemporary products.

“We work hard to source unique product ranges from New Zealand artisans to fill our store,” said co-owner Andrew Murray.

“While we still serve great coffee, tea and treats, and are kind of famous for our cheese rolls, we wanted to focus on the products we offer in store.

“We’ve recently held our first-ever exhibition of original art, local legend Eve Woodrow knitted furiously all summer long and has just dropped off a huge range of quirky multi-coloured beanies, not one of which is the same, and elsewhere in the store we’ve got stunning eye-catching glassware in intense colours from Katie Brown.”

With a background in IT, Andrew is now exercising his creative vision to position Vesta Design Store as a place for exceptional design and gift pieces. The pair continually work hard to maintain a fresh range of beautiful, quirky, unique and quality New Zealand design wares, all housed in the cottage which they see as a ‘piece of art’ in itself.

“Part of the appeal of Vesta is that people come in here and never know what will catch their eye,” said Mr Murray. “We want people to walk in and fall in love with everything in store as much as we do.”

Browsing the range of design wares in store, it’s impossible not to soak up the heritage of the cottage. An eclectic mix of contemporary New Zealand art hangs on original vintage wallpaper, while creaking timber floorboards, stone chimneys and hand-tooled joinery add to the special atmosphere.

“We’re hugely passionate about breathing a new lease of life back into this beautiful old cottage by mixing new with old and opening people’s eyes to New Zealand’s creative heart.”

Vesta Gift and Design Store is located at 19 Marine Parade and opens every day from 10am to 5.30pm. For more information, go to

About Williams Cottage

Built in 1864, Williams Cottage is Queenstown’s oldest wooden cottage, mostly unmodified from its original state and now protected by The Historic Places Trust. Built by pioneering mariner John Williams, the cottage had easy access to sailing ships, and Williams went on to set up a transport shipping service on the lake transporting gold to meet the train at Kingston.

The cottage was owned by a number of Queenstown families until 1994 when it was purchased by The Historic Places Trust and the local council. It spent a brief period from1997 as an annexe to the Lakes District Museum.

Williams Cottage is well-loved by locals, as evidenced by their fight to protect it when it was threatened with demolition in the 1980’s.


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