Granted it's first license in 1870, the Hotel operated as the Ocean View Family Hotel and May Haulk was its pioneer publican. A rival pub, the Whitecliffs Hotel, was bought by a later owner of the Ocean View and was mysteriously burnt down when unoccupied.
Around 1903 the hotel was owned by Edward Brownie who had given up his job as a prison warder in 1903 in Lyttelton. His wife Rose, assisted in the running of the hotel offering first class accommodation and picnic areas for the day visitor. The Fred Pimms coaches passed daily between Lyttelton and Governors Bay. Steam ferries also moored at the the Maori Gardens wharf bringing other visitors. Pictured left is the Canterbury ferry unloading guests circa 1905. Other long term proprietors included, David Rodgers (1940-1965) and Pat McCarthy (1965-1975) and we probably should throw ourselves into this mix too.... Clare and Jeremy Dyer (2003-present).
Governors Bay was a favourite place for honeymooners from Christchurch before the advent of cheap airplane flights and we have met 100s of older folk who met, married or honeymooned at our hotel.
Through the late 1970s, 80s, and 1990s the hotel underwent a number of leasehold ownerships and fell into disrepair and disrepute at times. Locals tell of times when bikies ruled the roost and gangs set fire to rival gangs' motorcycles in the car park. During this period it was known briefly as the Smugglers Arms Hotel.
Although the hotel has undergone some substantial renovations over its long history, there are substantial parts of the original Hotel still in place. For instance the gabled roof in the picture above is still there behind a 1930s facade. Many old photos adorn the snug area in the hotel dating back throughout its history.
The hotel is currently owned by Jeremy Dyer and Clare Neville-Dyer. Jeremy was bought up in Christchurch but both he and Clare have being operating hotels and restaurants overseas for the past 20 years. Before their knowledge of the hotel, Clare had mentioned to Jeremy that the only place she would consider to live back in New Zealand was Governors Bay. Coincidentally, the hotel is located at the bottom of Dyers Pass road and only recently did we discover that prior to Governor Grey’s arrival in the Bay, it was known as Dyers Bay!