Werner Dairy

Lowburn Road And 4 Heaney Road, Lowburn

  • Werner Dairy.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: A Middleton.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2392 Date Entered 14th April 2005


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes part of the land in Certificate of Title OT19A/390 and the Werner dairy, and its fixtures and fittings thereon. The registration includes only the land on which the dairy sits and not the larger section - Grid Reference 117614 (Higham, 1976)

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 27246 (CT OT19A/390), Otago Land District


The Werner dairy is located just outside Lowburn, a small settlement near the Central Otago town of Cromwell. The Lowburn Valley is now situated on the shores of Lake Dunstan, formed from the damming of the Clutha River that followed Parliamentary approval for this contentious scheme in 1975. Part of the Lowburn settlement now lies under the waters of the lake. All this area of Central Otago is well-known for its history of gold mining that followed the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully, near the town of Lawrence, in 1861 . Prior to this discovery, Central Otago was a sparsely populated land where a few pastoralists had taken up leases on large runs, driving their flocks of sheep long distances from the ports of Dunedin, Molyneux (at the mouth of the Clutha River) and Moeraki. In the last fifteen years, the Central Otago landscape has seen a new economic boom in the form of viticulture. Commercial vineyard planting began after the flooding of the Clutha Valley in the 1980s and has increased in the following years . The land surrounding the dairy is used as a garden, as has long been the practice here.

Little is known about John Werner, the original owner of the property, whose name remains attached to this small unusual structure he built in the 1870s. On an 1886 land title for ten acres John Werner is named as a miner . Werner is known to have kept a herd of dairy cows on the property and to have held a seat on the Vincent County Council ; but he appears to have left the district by the end of the nineteenth century . In 1907 Werner sold the block to Harry Wood and since this time the land has changed hands many times. In 1998 then owner Alan Martin subdivided the property. In 2000 he entered into a heritage covenant with the NZHPT . The dairy now sits on a section of land of 8398 square metres and is owned by Douglas Saunders, who purchased it in November 2003 . The property is rented out to tenants.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Werner dairy has significant architectural, historical value. Its historical value lies in its age as the dairy is estimated to have been built in the 1870s, and its use as a dairy, for processing milk into cheese and butter on the small Werner farm, which is representative of the history of farming practices on small holdings in Otago.

It is a small vernacular structure unusual in its octagonal shape that stands out in the Lowburn landscape. In 1976, Higham et al noted that this dairy was said to be one of only three such octagonal structures in New Zealand.

This unusual octagonal shaped building was constructed by the first European settler on this block of land, and so it is associated with the early European settlement of the Lowburn district, and integrally associated with the history of the area. Constructed from locally available schist and cob, this small vernacular structure is well known and held in esteem in the local community. The dairy was used daily during early methods of farming for processing milk products, and this kind of structure has been long obsolete. In this respect the dairy provides knowledge of New Zealand's history. One of only three such identified structures , it is also a rare building.

The Werner dairy is one of a series of vernacular farm structures still standing that date from the first years of European land holdings in Central Otago. It stands in close proximity to the Partridge farm buildings, and is approximately the same age. These structures are associated with small holdings and are built in a similar style and from schist and limestone mortar. They are the extant remnants of a former historical landscape.

The Kai Tahu ki Otago Natural Resource Management Plan does not record any sites in the area of the Werner dairy. A findspot, where an adze was located, is identified as iwi site number G41-C7 (NZAA site number G41/546), in the general Lowburn area.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Werner, John

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This octagonal shaped building is illustrated in Thornton. There is a central post from which the rafters spring to support the corrugated iron roof. Each octagonal side measures approximately 1.83 metres (6ft) in width and the height of the building is 2.26 metres. The windows have been removed and replaced with shutters. The wooden flooring is of Baltic pine .

Construction Dates

Construction Details

Cob mix with stone (schist) incorporated, with a white plaster wash.

Information Sources

Angus, 1977

J. Angus, One Hundred Years of Vincent County Council, Vincent County Council, Dunedin, 1977

Higham, 1976

C. Higham, G. Mason, and S. Moore, 'Upper Clutha Valley: An Archaeological Survey' Dunedin: Department of Anthropology, University of Otago, 1976

Stephenson, 2004

Janet Stephenson, Heather Bauchop and Peter Petchey, 'Bannockburn Heritage Landscape Study', Department of Conservation, Science and Research Unit, Wellington 2004

Thornton, 1983

G. Thornton, Historic Buildings of New Zealand Auckland: Methuen, 1983

Thornton, 1986

Geoffrey Thornton, The New Zealand Heritage of Farm Buildings, Auckland, 1986

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area office

Listed as site number G41/392 on the New Zealand Archaeological Association's site recording scheme. An adjacent building, the former Werner farmhouse according to Higham et al, is listed as site number G41/393.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.