Hayes Engineering Works. © Grant Sheehan

Tohu Whenua: Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead

View the map


AA Members can save 10% on selected accommodation.

Start looking

If you’re a fan of Kiwi ingenuity, rural inventions and workshops crammed with heritage machinery, then Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead is the place for you. 

Located along the scenic Central Otago Discovery Route between Dunedin and Queenstown, Hayes Engineering Works near Oturehua was once the home of prolific inventor Ernest ‘Ernie’ Hayes. His speciality was inventing and perfecting labour-saving devices to help with life on the farm. From rabbit bait cutters to windmills, Ernie’s products became sought after both at home and overseas. His most well known achievement was the refinement of the fencing wire strainer – farmers around the globe use it to this day to keep their fences strong and straight.

Not one to stay at home, Ernie’s wife Hannah was the other half of this success story. Dressed in ankle-length skirts, she made intrepid bicycle trips throughout the district to market their wares and take orders. 

Thanks to the work of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Ernie’s workshop is preserved just as he left it. During the summer months you can take a self-guided tour most days. Our top tip: time your visit to coincide with an Operating Day to witness all of the various lathes, drills and saws come to life. 

Make sure you also explore the family’s 1920s homestead. Filled with a treasure trove of domestic devices that were well ahead of their time in rural New Zealand, the house features an indoor flush toilet, overhead shower and the likely first in-home sound system connecting each room to radio and messaging. 

Before you get back on the road, or on your bike – the Otago Central Rail Trail goes right by here – make sure you try some of the delicious food from the on-site café. It’s country hospitality at its best.

Hayes Engineering Works is recognised as a Tohu Whenua, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top heritage experiences. The property is proudly cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more

Get outdoors

15 intriguing things to discover in Otago's Waitaki District

Stretching inland from the North Otago coastline, the Waitaki District is rich in heritage and internationally significant geology. From Victorian architecture to fresh seafood, hot tubs, cycle trails and cheese, we’ve picked 15 unique things to discover.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Ride the cycle trails of Central Otago

With wide open landscapes, gold mining heritage and winding rivers, Central Otago is a great spot for cycling. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Get outdoors

Ten awesome outdoor adventures in Otago

The Otago Region is home to diverse landscapes – from the wild coast to the wide open plains. With goldrush heritage, mysterious caves, quirky winter sports and some truly unique geology, it's a remarkable place to explore.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Central Otago: good curling to ye

No one really knows where the peculiar sport of curling originated, but there’s no doubt it was the Scots who took it to heart. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now