One of New Zealand's oldest pubs has been temporarily closed after fears it has been earthquake damaged.

But publican Sean Madden of the historic Hurunui Hotel in North Canterbury, who only took over the lease two months ago, is hopeful that it'll soon be declared safe to reopen.

The hotel, which has had the longest continuous liquor licence in the country, dating back to 1860, originally appeared to have stood up well in Monday morning's devastating magnitude-7.8 tremor.

It was cleared by engineers as being safe on Monday.


But a second inspection on Wednesday saw it red-stickered and its doors closed.
It has some cracks and damaged brick chimneys, Madden says.

One room, known as "Charlotte's Room" named after the hotel's supposed ghost, suffered the worst damage.

Thirteen guests had to be urgently relocated to nearby houses and cabins at 4pm on Wednesday.

A third engineer's inspection today was positive, Madden says, and hopes that the council will lift its red sticker within days.

Meanwhile, a cafe that Madden also runs in separate building beside the old hotel is open for business.

Before this week started with a jolt things had been going well for Madden's new hotel.

Last week was busy and accommodation was booked out for the next seven months, with contractors working on the Amuri Irrigation Scheme.

But Monday's quake has thrown all those plans into disarray.

"We live off the income of this, it's our livelihood," Madden said.