There is much to explore in Oturehua, Central Otago, where treasures from the past and ancient lore are very much alive.
Oturehua is 40kms from Alexandra and approximately 10kms from Wedderburn. Originally known as Rough Ridge after the range of hills running northeast, Oturehua translates to ‘the sun God’. Boasting golden views of Mt Ida and the famous Hawkdun Range, this picturesque farming community rests alongside the Otago Central Rail Trail.
It is home to the famous historic site, Hayes Engineering Works, established in 1895 by millwright turned engineer, Ernest Hayes. The works earned a deserved reputation for innovative inventions including the Hayes Windmill and the world renown Hayes Wire Strainers still used on farm fences today. It is in original condition and has many operational pieces. It is open to the public during the summer can be viewed by arrangement at other times.
Still trading today is Gilchrist's Store with its 1899 interior and original merchandise on the shelves. Of the same era, is The Oturehua Tavern, once known as Rough Ridge Railway Hotel.
Down Reef Road is the Golden Progress Quartz Mine featuring impressive equipment used in attempt to find gold notoriously difficult to mine.
Just south of Oturehua is the Idaburn Dam. When winter weather conditions are freezing, the dam hosts the ancient curling (ice sport) Bonspiel tournament. Witness true Scottish curling traditions as 20kg granite stones are slid over smooth ice. Afterwards, a Curlers Court holds a secret ceremony to induct new members into the fold.
The Idaburn Dam is also a popular fishing spot and an adjacent paddock hosts the popular Brass Monkey Motorcycle Rally, where riders travel in often freezing, June temperatures.
Oturehua reflects its people’s triumph over adversity – a place where tradition and farming ingenuity are still a way of life.