In an exposed location,the Matanaka Farm Buildings reflect the tough life faced by migrant families – difficult conditions and resourcefulness in dealing with such isolation.
In 1838 Sydney-born Johnny Jones bought a whaling station at Waikouaiti, then some farm land nearby for farming families shifting from Australia, before settling in 1843 with his family above the whaling station at Matanaka.
He later became a leading merchant and shipowner in Dunedin, the well-known Union Steam Ship Company developed from his Harbour Steam Company.
The farm buildings are a legacy from the days of transition from shore whaling to farming. On a visit it is possible to recapture the atmosphere of the times when they were new and part of the first farm in Otago, then a remote and sparsely inhabited corner of the new colony of New Zealand.
The stables building of Australian timber, still with the original "Patented Galvanised Tinned Iron" roof, is the finest building on the site. On the ground floor is a gig room, harness room and horse stalls; above a loft reached through trapdoors with pigeon lofts at the northern end.
The stables and granary have distinctive arched windows with louvres. The schoolhouse, with french doors, was formerly a farm building.