"The Hotel de Wheels" ... Certainly an unusual name, but most appropriate for a hotel that made a 120-metre journey down an inner city street on railway tracks !!! YES REALLY.
Entrepreneur Chris Parkin and his neighbour Cameron Shaw hatched a plan in June 1992 over a meal of steak and chips in a city steak bar. Chris who had an interest in the hotel and was considering the fate of the building given the decision to build the new national museum" Te Papa" on the site.
Basically the plan was to move the 3500 tonne hotel 100 odd meters on 96 railway bogies to a new site on the corner of Tory and Cable Streets. Many thought the plan was crazy .. but this engineering method did have a number of precedents ... a hotel in Boston (1969), a hotel at Brighton Beach near New York (1888) and another in San Antonio, Texas (1985).
The Museum Hotel
Over two weekends in August 1993, the Museum Hotel, which weighs over 3500 tonnes, was shifted from its original site in Cable Street (where Te Papa now stands), to a site across the road on the corner of Tory and Cable Streets.
At a cost of over $2.4 million, the Museum Hotel was moved on railway bogies and pushed by eight hydraulic rams. Ninety-six railway bogies were arranged under the building, as well as a grid of steel beams which supported the building when the concrete piles were cut away.
The shift was made in two stages. The first stage involved moving the hotel to Barnett Street where it sat opposite its new site. The second stage involved turning all the bogies to face the new site while hydraulic jacks supported the weight of the building. Then, to an audience of hundreds, the hotel was moved to its current resting place without any serious damage.
History of the move and How they moved a hotel .
The rust coloured sculpture on the corner is by Wellington artist Cathryn Monro and is a very large steel sculpture named Per Capita ... more about this in the near future