New Hayes’ developments proving popular tourist attraction.

A restored homestead considered a one-off house in New Zealand and a cafe are exciting new developments at a popular Central Otago visitor attraction, which continues to prove a real drawcard.
Located in Oturehua, off the Ida Valley-Omakau road, is Hayes Engineering Works featuring inventive machinery which was vital to New Zealand's farming community, men's quarters and stables.

The main homestead of Ernest and Hannah Hayes has been restored and refurbished in its 1920s character. The 11-room mud-brick home was the first in the district to have a flushing toilet and electricity and comprises five bedrooms, a drawing room, laundry, kitchen, pantry, bathroom and large passageway.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust owns the homestead as part of the Hayes complex at Oturehua.

Hayes Engineering Works property manager Helen Cameron says a random gate survey of visitors four years ago indicated a need for a cafe.
Initially starting with pre-wrapped and pre-made basic sandwiches and pies, the idea progressed to installing a commercial kitchen this winter. The cafe officially opened in September in the original mudbrick cottage where Hannah Hayes read to her nine children.

‘‘Today all the food is made on-site, from breads and sammies to quiches and pasta. The cafe is proving very, very popular,'' she enthuses, adding unique merchandise including homemade jams and pickles are also for sale.


Some original furniture and even linen features in the restored homestead, described by Helen as ‘‘the grand house of the district''. She was grateful for a chattels list from the Hayes' oldest son to work from, and for generous donations from daughters-in-law and grandsons who ‘‘gave items back to the house''. ‘‘It's a one-off house in New Zealand and, perhaps in the world, because it was built by engineers, not carpenters or builders, so it's got a lot of quirky features,'' says Helen. ‘‘The biggest thrill is that men enjoy it as much as the ladies do.''

Helen says the grounds around the homestead will also be restored.

For all deatials, opeing hours and entry fees, view the website

Guided tours

VISITORS can experience the Hayes Engineering Works in fully operational mode at four open days held during the summer months.

The machinery will be demonstrated periodically throughout the day.

Walk through the factory to learn more about the entrepreneurial Ernest Hayes and his wife Hannah.

Appreciate the ingenuity that went into many of the inventions that are familiar in agriculture today - from wire-fence strainers to windmills.

Guided tours through the factory and the homestead are available.

Groups of 12 or more people are able to book tours at any time.

Contact Helen Cameron at Hayes Engineering Works on (03) 444-5801 or email:

The Hayes complex is open daily from 9am to 5pm but is closed on Christmas Day.