Teviot Woolshed

Central Otago District

The largest woolshed in the colony

If History is your game, and the name Cargill rings a bell, well this is a must do, not that there is really much to see, aside from the largest stone building ruins in New Zealand! Just off the road in a lovely area called the Teviot Valley, lies in a paddock a massive stone arch. The size of which is a little startling. The area is privately owned and the owners are lovely people. The ruins are now listed as a Historical place. This property was once one of the largest runs in New Zealand, the the shed itself could hold (allegedly) up to 11,000 sheep. Fire was eventually the demise in 1924, and half the ruins were bulldozed in 1982 as they were believed to be unsafe.


On your way through the Teviot Valley, Get over to the other side of the river, by either the Bridge at Millers Flat or the Bridge at Roxburgh, depending on the direction your traveling. The Teviot Road is the road that connects those two towns on the opposite river bank, What you are looking for is Loop Road, not far down this and you will see the stone ruins in the paddock. Pull to the side of the road and check it out.

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The golden era of sheep running

John Cargll was the first son of Captain William Cargill (who had seventeen children), one of the founders of New Edinburgh (Dunedin), Lots of places are named after the Captain around Dunedin, Mount Cargill for example and Invercargill would you believe. He even has his own monument, the awesome fountain like thing in the Exchange on Princess Street. Enough of the Captain. John, one of his noteworthy children followed in his footsteps and became very successful in Otago. He leased the first major run in Central Otago, in a valley named Tiviot. The run was massive, about 100,000 acres all up. This was the time when runholders were among the richest in the country, The first golden age of farming in New Zealand.

He went into partnership with his Son in Law, E.R. Anderson, and together at the height on the farm it was employing about 200 people, including the house workers. They say that Anderson on one of his visits back home, bought the roof off of a temporary railway station and shipped it back to Teviot, to be used as the roof for the woolshed. After the sheep industry had a downturn, both Cargill and Anderson sold up and took off out of the country, taking all their money with them. A new owner was to bring the station back to life and turn it prosperous again, W.T. Scrimgeour. He brought with him fierce business minded qualities and created the first widely used Shearing rules throughout New Zealand and Australia.

There were some rumors spreading in 1920 about stolen wool in the woolshed, and so the city of Dunedin was sending up a detective. In 1924 as he arrived in the morning the woolshed was smoldering from a mysterious fire the night before, speculation and hearsay was all that was found in the hunt for the arsonist.

John Cargill on one of his ventures back home, met up with the famous Alexander Bell, the man that had just invented the telephone. John told Alexander all about Teviot and how isolated it was. So Mr. Alexander give John a couple of phones. Now John liking to show off his power and wealth had lines installed from his house beside the woolshed to the post office in Roxburgh. They say on a night in 1877 that the lines finally connected and the first phone call in New Zealand was made between the postmasters daughter and Mr John Cargill.

I love a good story - Stu