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Art & Heritage

Totara Estate, Heritage NZ place to visit

  • 1 minute

@Totara Estate

What to see and do

TOTARA ESTATE is where the New Zealand economy took off. New Zealand’s industrial heritage is interesting when an innovative exhibition, in beautiful stone buildings guides visitors through a crucial period of history. Listen to stories narrating the production of the first frozen meat shipment from Totara Estate to England. Promises of scones slathered in lashings of fresh berry jam and finished with a generous dollop of double whipped cream are a just reward for a day exploring Aotearoa New Zealand’s byways.

@Totara Estate
@Totara Estate


  • Photos, collectables and stories about the General Manager William Davidson who converted an immigrant ship ‘Dunedin’ with a steam-powered Bell-Coleman refrigerator
  • Tales about Edmond Slattery, a swagman with a story or two how he elicited funds. Edmond’s tales were accompanied with his Irish jig. He apparently got his nickname from an Irish priest in Lawrence who called him a ‘shiner’ for avoiding work and getting drunk. Source Slattery.
  • Robert Winter (Barney Whiterats) and his performing white rats
  • Heritage sheep to hand feed is popular with younger visitors
  • Take a walk up Sebastapol Hill to absorb the views of North Otago. A monument to manager Thomas Brydone, who oversaw the farm’s transition from wool to meat and a seat is the reward for the short steep climb to the top.
  • Totara Estate is idenitified as a Tohu Whenua heritage site. Tohu Whenua are the places that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand.

Totara Estate is picturesque with its whitestone aged buildings, rural farmland setting and sense of timelessness.

Totara Estate, Otago is interesting for kids with heritage sheep to hand feed. As well the aspects of an early 20th century meat slaughter house fascinate kids whose idea of meat is a supermarket packet. Check beforehand to arrange your visit around the monthly event of a Victorian tearooms. The cookhouse is transformed into Victorian tearooms, with the serving staff in full garb. There’s a costume box for visiting kids, too, if they want to get in character.

There is plenty to do close by Totara Estate. Explore the Waitaki Valley and find the extraordinary geological features of Elephant Rocks or spend time in the Victorian precinct of Oamaru finding out more about life in the 19th century. A highlight for nature lovers is the nearby Blue Penguin Colony. If you visit Totara Estate on a Sunday nearby Clarks Mill in your tour, open for two hours in the afternoon.

OPENING HOURS (check Totara Estate website for up to date opening hours beforehand to avoid disappointment).

September – May

Thursday – Monday: 10.00am – 4.00pm


  • Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and the day after New Years Day.


  • National Lamb Day
  • 24 & 25th May

10.00am – 4.00pm

Entrance fees apply

Property is managed by Heritage New Zealand.

@Totara Estate
@Totara Estate


8km south of Ōamaru

State Highway 1

TOTARA ESTATE is part of the heritage driving trail for visitors to Oamaru & Waitaki. For more information about Oamaru’s key attractions check out 31 Things to Do in Oamaru: A Guide to the Town’s Best Attractions and Activities as well click on Oamaru travel facts and getting around  for holiday tips.



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