Clarks Mill

An important industrial landmark in beautiful North Otago, this historic flour mill houses fascinating working machinery inside striking stone and timber buildings.

Clarks Mill
Image: Grant Sheehanexpand/collapse

An important industrial landmark in beautiful North Otago, this historic flour mill houses fascinating working machinery inside striking stone and timber buildings.

Planned from 1865 as part of Totara Estate and one of 13 flour mills in North Otago, this complex tells the story of pioneering entrepreneurship and innovation, the rise and decline of the wheat growing and flour milling industry once central to the district’s economy, and changes in land use and ownership. By the time it finally ceased operation in 1976, Clarks Mill had witnessed all manner of human dramas and outlived most contemporary local mills by half a century.

The heart of the site is the imposing four-storey mill building, constructed in 1866 of local limestone in Scottish design. It tells of the technological developments of flour milling, starting with largely British machinery and French millstones powered by a water wheel.

The building’s highlight is a rare collection of roller milling machinery, installed in 1893. Lovingly restored to operating condition by a team of dedicated volunteers, the machinery grinds into action on the last Sunday of each month, offering visitors a thrilling opportunity to see, hear and feel what it would have been like to work in the mill.

Other highlights include the original water race, and the railway line built in 1877 to connect the mill to the main trunk line. One of two millers’ cottages, constructed from local stone, is known as Smokey Joe’s and remains largely unaltered.

Located just north of the small town of Maheno, 12km south of Oamaru, the mill can be explored on a self-guided tour aided by knowledgeable hosts, historic photographs and other interpretive displays.  Tours are available every Sunday afternoon from Labour Weekend to April. Fully-guided tours for groups, with the machinery operating, are available by prior arrangement.

See, hear and feel what work in the mill was like when the machinery rolls into action.

Address

  • State Highway 1, between Reidston and Maheno
  • Watch for sign
  • Maheno
  • 9495

Contact Information

Opening Hours

  • End October (Labour weekend) - April, Sunday. Machinery operates last Sunday of the month at 2pm.
  • 1 - 3pm
  • January-March, Sunday and Thursday
  • 10am - 1pm. Machinery operates 11am Thursdays and 2pm Sundays*
  • * Last Sunday of the month open 12-4pm, machinery operates at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
  • Closed May-September; Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Cost

Adults: $10 Children: Free Tertiary students: $5 Machinery operating times: Adults: $15 Please understand that surcharges may apply at times of special events.