Visitors feeding sheep at Totara Estate ; photo by Grant Sheehan, copyright Heritage New Zealand.

The first shipment of frozen mutton for England was sent from this North Otago estate in 1882. This marked the start of an export industry that is now worth billions. The area known today as Totara Estate was one of Otago’s early farms, dating from the 1850s. By 1866 it covered almost 15,000 acres and boasted 17,654 sheep, 200 cattle, and arguably some of the best agricultural land in the country. The displays inside the wonderfully restored buildings of Oamaru stone provide an insight into the development of agriculture in New Zealand and shed light on farm life in the 1880s.  Visitors can explore the men’s quarters, cookhouse, stables, forge and granary and hear stories of the hard-working farm hands and swaggers. In the slaughterhouse visitors can eavesdrop on the slaughter men as they finish their backbreaking workday and learn more about that historic first shipment of frozen meat. The site is family-friendly and includes the chance to dress up as a swagger, join in with farm activities, feed the sheep, and play old-fashioned games. 

Related links

Heritage New Zealand - Totara Estate

NZHistory - Totara Estate

Heritage New Zealand - Double celebration at Totara Estate

Otago Daily Times - Totara Estate gets Landmark status

Celebrating Totara Estate


Updated on 20th March 2018