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Emergency services received a call from the sole occupant at Sheffield Hotel on Wrights Rd, Sheffield, northeast of Darfield, as she was evacuating about 1.15am.
Crews from the fire station across the road arrived to find the upper level of the building well alight, authorities said.
They had been struggling to put out the blaze because of upper roof cavities, and they were relying on ladders because internal stairs had been damaged.
A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesperson said it had been extinguished and crews were dampening hotspots at about 7.30am.
Five fire engines, a turntable ladder, a command unit and several tankers were at the fire.
There are no reports of injuries and no other buildings were in danger.
A fire investigator is at the hotel, but the cause of the blaze is still yet to be determined.