In 1969 Taradale, Lyn and Bruce Johnson - with their three children, all aged under 5 - took the lifechanging step of taking over the Colonial Lodge Motel.

Fifty years on most of the family are still there, with the next generation starting to come through.

The Johnsons bought the Colonial Lodge on August 22, 1969 from local builder Peter Flood as a six-unit motel.

Life in Taradale back in the late 60s was a far cry from what it is today. The town had only recently amalgamated with Napier and had a total population of about 6000.


Gloucester St had about six or seven shops, with many houses in between.

Lee Rd ended at Meeanee Rd and the village had no high school, no restaurants, and the local supermarket was where McDonald's is now.

There was almost nothing but empty land and vineyards between Greenmeadows and Kennedy Rd, according to Bruce Johnson.

It was even a long-distance toll call to Napier from a landline in Taradale.

"Back then reservations for the motel were mostly through the post or on the phone and recording of occupancy was done on large paper sheets with unit numbers across the top and dates down the side," he said.

The lodge has since developed from the original six units to a 20-unit complex, after a redevelopment in the late 90s, and is seen as a focal point in the community alongside the neighbouring Taradale RSA.

Bruce Johnson was a serving officer in the Territorial Army when they arrived at Colonial Lodge and has been a service member of the Taradale RSA, even being made an honorary life member.

The family have also been a huge part of the community, hosting events and fundraisers, and both have more than 30 year's involvement with the Taradale Lions Club.


Once the redevelopment was completed it was time for them to retire.

Son Mark - their youngest, who was only 11 months old when he first arrived at the motel - has since taken over the management, after a career as a dive instructor in the Caribbean, with his wife, Sarah.

Although some things never change, the booking system has definitely seen an upgrade in these more tech savvy times.