Tokarahi Station Homestead

47 Dip Hill Road, Tokarahi

  • Tokarahi Station Homestead.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2431 Date Entered 7th April 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 22983 (CT OT15A/219), Otago Land District, and the building known as Tokarahi Station Homestead thereon.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 22983 (CT OT15A/219), Otago Land District


Tokarahi homestead, probably built around 1876, with susbstantial additions constructed circa 1890, is located on Dip Hill Road, close to the settlement of Tokarahi in North Otago. Tokarahi Station homestead has historic significance for its association with Tokarahi Station and the domestic side of early pastoralism in North Otago; prominent land-owning families the McMasters and Reids; and the Liberal government’s closer settlement policy which resulted in the break-up of large landholdings in the 1890’s. In more recent years the story of the homestead has mirrored that of other large country homes in offering traveller accommodation in conjunction with its continued use as a family home.

The building has architectural significance as a fine example of a station homestead of the time, and through its association with TC Dennison who was also responsible for the design of other impressive North Otago buildings such as the Kuriheka Estate Stables (List No. 347, Category 1) and the Loan and Mercantile Building (List No. 354, Category 1); as well as a possible connection with notable Oamaru architect John Megget Forrester.

Tokarahi Station is a pastoral run with origins in the larger Maerewhenua run taken up by John Borton and Alexander McMaster in 1861. When Borton and McMaster’s partnership broke up in 1878 the run was divided with McMaster retaining the Tokarahi portion, and Borton the Maerewhenua portion. Tokarahi then comprised 70,000 acres of leasehold and 13,000 acres of freehold land. .

The original farm homestead at Tokarahi was perhaps built around 1876, and constructed of roughly hewn blocks of limestone. No records relating to this building have been found. Substantial additions were constructed circa 1890, providing the building with the grandeur still present today. The substantial additions to the front of the house consisted of two bedrooms, a drawing room, dining room and a grand entrance hall featuring pillars, a domed skylight and intricate plaster work. The exterior is a brownish stone, reputedly Australian sandstone shipped to New Zealand as ships ballast. Art historian Conal McCarthy refers to the stone as ‘reddish Mount Gambia stone.’ McCarthy describes the house as having ‘a distinctly Australian air’ due to its ‘rambling verandah.’

In 1897 Tokarahi (excluding the 1500 acre homestead block) was purchased by the Crown pursuant to the Lands for Settlement Act 1892 and the estate was divided for closer settlement. In more recent years, the homestead and immediate surroundings have been subdivided off from the remainder of the farm.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1878 -

1890 -

Completion Date

3rd December 2016

Report Written By

Jane O'Dea

Information Sources

McDonald, 1977

K C McDonald, White Stone Country: the story of North Otago, Capper Press, Christchurch, 1977, [1962]

Pinney, 1981

R. Pinney, Early Northern Otago Runs, Auckland, 1981

Mortimer, 1979

D.J. Mortimer, ‘The Tokarahi Settlement – An Evaluation of the Liberal Government’s Land Settlement Policy’, University of Otago History (Hons) Thesis, 1979

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.