Explore the collection at Fyffe House

The collection at Fyffe House consists predominately of domestic furnishings, representing the history of the property as the residence of the Fyfe, Goodall and Lowe families, in a coastal whaling community. 

Whilst most of the original contents are unknown, a handful of personal belongings and furniture related to various inhabitants remain.  Archaeological finds from excavations around the property are also held in the collection of Fyffe House.

Please note that due to conservation reasons not all objects may be on public display at any one time. If you are interested in viewing an item, please contact the Property Manager.  

Heritage New Zealand manages its collection of historic objects in its properties from a central database.  You can find out more about the how the Heritage New Zealand collection is managed, including donating items on this website.

To see further highlights from the collection online, search for Fyffe House at New Zealand Museums

  • Flensing tool

    This part of a flensing tool was excavated from the Fyffe House property during recent trenching to lay a telephone cable.  It has been dated to around 1870.   Flensing tools were used to remove the skin and blubber from the carcass of a whale.  The whalers used the tool like a knife, to slice strips off the whale carcass.  Later, these strips of blubber were boiled to extract the highly sought after oil. Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • George Low's boat

    Perhaps the largest object catalogued - George Low's clinker-built boat at Fyffe House.  He used it to catch lobsters and kept it in the parlour after he retired.  Image: Grant Sheehan.

  • Whale earbone

    This ear bone comes from a right whale, a species of whale from the Balaenidae family.  Right whales were hunted extensively in New Zealand waters during much of the 19th century.  In a bay which was once literally littered with whale bones, only occasionally today are bones uncovered or washed up by heavy storms, as was this part of an ear bone found in 2001. Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • Whalebone fence post

    The whaling history of Kaikoura is deeply intertwined with the history of this property. Initially, whaling provided a livelihood for the original occupants of Fyffe House.  Whaling also provided building components in the form of the whale bones.  Fyffe House rests on whale bone piles, while this example shows a whale bone fence post. Image: Heritage New Zealand