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Matanaka Farm

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As one of Aotearoa’s oldest cities, Dunedin is known for many firsts, oldest and onlys, but few realise that it is home to the oldest surviving European farm buildings in the country.

Exterior of Matanaka Farm building

Atmospheric and mere metres from the cliffside, notions of the city melt away until there’s only roaring ocean and moody skies, creating a whipping windswept Outlander-like setting.

Perched on an open, private paddock overlooking the Pacific Ocean, huddled together, are five vestiges of Dunedin’s rural past.

Designated Category I heritage buildings in 2009, the structures were built in the 1840s and include a schoolhouse, granary and privy, all in their original positions.

There is an odd wee something that’s a bit out of place. A wooden boat, just sitting idly in one of the old buildings. How did it even get in there?

Entering the buildings is like entering a time machine to the 19th Century.

The boat inside one of the buildings at Matanaka Farm.
The historic buildings at Matanaka Farm.
Desks inside the schoolhouse.

Walk through the stables, still with its original tin roof and horse stalls, or the schoolhouse, which houses a history display and has period desks, and you’ll be transported back to when European settlement had just begun in this part of the country.

Matanaka is one of Dunedin’s most overlooked historic sites. The atmosphere of the moody coast and the historic significance of the structures combine to create quite the ambiance and the whole place is surprisingly picturesque.

Just keep in mind, since it’s on an active farm, it is closed for lambing season between August and October.

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