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 and Thursday afternoons from October to April, with the machinery working on the last Sunday of the month.  

Group bookings (minimum numbers apply)

We welcome bookings by arrangement for special guided and operating tours of the Mill.  A very interesting and informative experience including a film, a tour by our knowledgeable and informative guides, and then see the machinery operating in all its glory.   Allow 1.5 hrs, group minimum size of 15.  Cost $20 per person. 

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

    See, hear and feel the Mill come to life at one of the Summer operating days.  Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • Interior of Clarks Mill

    Imagine the sound and feeling when the mill roars to life.  Image: Merv Thomas

  • Fenwick School students at Clarks Mill

    Learning more about flour production and the mill's operation.  Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • Interior view of Clarks Mill

    Explore three floors of the mill and explore how wheat is turned into our daily bread. Image: Merv Thomas

  • Traction engine at Clarks Mill

    Fenwick School students see - and hear - a traction engine in action.  Image: Heritage New Zealand

  • Aerial View of Clarks Mill

    An elevated view of the site and its buildings. Image: Heritage New Zealand


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

Contact Information

Opening Hours

  • September - May
  • Sunday 1 - 3pm
  • Thursday 10.30am - 1pm.
  • Machinery operates last Sunday of the month
  • Arrive 1pm for introduction and tour.
  • Closed June - August; Christmas Day and Good Friday.


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