History

 

Built from locally quarried huge stone blocks by German settler Ernst Diehl in 1879, the Mill House is a former historic flour mill. Its first miller, Daniel Nicholson, began operating the mill 12 May 1879. Less than two years later, on 27 January 1881, the building was badly damaged by fire. Thereafter it stood unoccupied for several years until it was acquired and renovated by John Hewton and James Hutton. The Mill House was then purchased by the Dunedin-based Phoenix Company, which operated it as a mill until it was closed in 1939.

The mill and some 30 acres of adjoining land was sold to the Boy Scouts’ Association in 1958. Whilst the mill cottage was occupied by Mr Morris until June 1969, the mill itself stood unoccupied and forlorn until May 1969 when it was purchased by Bernard Esquilant and William Menlove. After extensive restoration work, the Mill House was opened as an accommodation-restaurant complex in July 1970.

The ground floor comprised a colonial-style restaurant with low ceiling and timber beams The first floor had six ensuite rooms and a guest lounge, while the top floor was the residence of the proprietor. Later, between 1971 and 1973 other additions were made to the complex, including a block of four motel units and a new reception area for the main building.

Otepopo Bridge.  The Mill House is sited alongside the Waianakarua River in well-developed gardens, which gives access to the historic Otepopo Bridge. Designed by John Turnbull in 1874, the bridge is famous for its graceful, tapered stone arches which were built using local Kakanui stone.

Located 25 kilometres south of Oamaru on the main highway to Dunedin, the Mill House is a significant part of the historic tapestry of North Otago.