40 km N of Dunedin on State Highway 1.
Waikouaiti, Otago
One of New Zealand's most colourful early settlers put this village on the map. It has a lovely beach and a lagoon noted for its wildlife.
At the age of 16, Johnny Jones (1809-69) worked as a sealer.
Fourteen years later he owned six ships and seven whaling
stations, including one at Karitane, bought in 1838. Always
with an eye to the future, he increased his holdings by buying
land from Karitane to Matanaka at the north end of Waikouaiti
His farm at Matanaka dates from 1840 when he brought over
from New South Wales a group of settlers in the sailing ship
Magnet. The farm supplied food to the whaling station and also
sent supplies to the first settlers to Dunedin in 1848.
As a merchant and farmer, Johnny Jones prospered, building up
his shipping company and extending his lands with the acquisition
of several sheep runs. He did, however, donate the land for both
the Presbyterian church (1863) and St John’s Anglican church
(1858), designed by B.W. Mountfort who is remembered chiefly
for the Christchurch buildings he designed.
Matanaka Farm Buildings
Appeal: Farm buildings organised like a small village, so isolated
that they seem to have been placed neatly but without purpose on
the landscape.
The turn-off to Matanaka farm is signposted at the northern
entrance to Waikouaiti before the racecourse. Pass the golf
course and follow a signposted, unsealed, narrow road up the
hill to the north of the beach. From the carpark there is a five
minute walk to the farm buildings.
As you approach Matanaka you can’t help but wonder why
Johnny Jones chose to build there in 1843. The access is difficult
even now, there is no obvious water source and the site is exposed
to all winds. One of the buildings is a two-roomed school that
could seat up to 15 students. One can only feel sorry for them. A
hard-headed businessman and whaler, Jones must have kept an
eye from there on the comings and goings at his whaling station
at Karitane; or, perhaps, he just enjoyed the views.
The surviving original wooden buildings include a storehouse,
granary, stables and three-seater privy as well as the school
house. The three largest buildings were prefabricated in Sydney
and the granary and stables still have their original ‘Patented
Galvanised Tinned Iron’ roof’.
The stable is the most appealing building, not only because of its
proportions, but because you can go inside to look at the six stalls
with their mangers at the head. Above each manger is a gap for
dropping straw down from the loft. If you want, you can climb
the ladder and go into the loft where the fodder was stored. It is
in remarkably good condition and could easily hold a barn dance
Although the colonial farm buildings are quite close to the
present farm, the atmosphere of the past and a feeling of isolation
are powerful as you gaze at the stark, sim
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