The Ayrburn story started over 150 years ago, when an expansive piece of land set against a striking, mountainous backdrop was purchased by Scottish-born William Paterson. It was turned into one of the first farms in the area, and remained a successful wheat, sheep and dairy operation until the early 21st Century. Over the years, it evolved to incorporate a striking homestead, woolshed, stables, a cart shed and dairy, each addition enhancing its charm. Now, after a series of meticulous renovations and painstaking restorations to the original buildings (in order to carefully maintain their original features), Ayrburn is poised to reopen as New Zealand’s most exciting new dining destination, courtesy of local developers Winton.
The new Ayrburn exists at the intersection of heritage and innovation. While the old farm buildings remain, they now serve to house a series of exceptional hospitality venues that will offer visitors a vast array of experiences. Officially open to the public from the ninth of December, Ayrburn is shaping up to be unlike any other dining precinct in the country, not only for its spectacular setting but also for the sheer breadth of its offering. From The Woolshed, where diners can order hearty and delicious, family-friendly meals by an open fire, to The Burr Bar, an intimate, calm and luxurious space in which drinks with friends will take on a decidedly elevated vibe, to The Manure Room, dubbed a ‘haven for wine lovers,’ and offering a more relaxed atmosphere and specialty wine tastings of Ayrburn’s own wine range, there truly is something here for any taste or proclivity.
Even those harbouring a sweet tooth will find everything they need at Ayrburn’s The Dairy, a destination filled with whimsical sweet treats that promise to hit the spot every time. While those who simply want to take in the peaceful setting with a coffee or wine in hand, or even with a picnic, can do so at The Dell, Ayrburn’s central, social lawn that will become something of a gathering space, as well as playing host to markets and other community events.
The venues mentioned above will be open in December, while in 2024, Ayrburn will add another four to its hospitality lineup, including Billy’s, its flagship fine dining restaurant, The Bakehouse, a casual drop-in where visitors can enjoy fresh coffee, pastries, pizza and more in an alfresco, garden setting, R.M. Specialty Meats, a traditional butchery selling the finest line-up of epicurean meats, and The Barrel Room, an exclusive, candle-litspace that can be booked for private functions and gatherings.
Overseen by industry leaders, from Executive Chef Richard Highnam to Master of Wine Sophie Parker-Thompson (who has worked with winemaker Jody Pagey to bring expertise to Ayrburn’s award-winning wine range, served exclusively on site), Ayrburn’s many venues have been thoughtfully brought to life with the goal of offering something truly unique and memorable.
As Winton’s CEO, Chris Meehan says, “An incredible amount of time has gone into making sure Ayrburn will be a place for great times. It embodies our commitment to celebrating the stories of the past by giving them a new future… Ayrburn is not just a destination, it’s an invitation to have fun and experience the best of New Zealand’s food, wine and hospitality in a place chosen 160 years ago for being one of the country’s most stunning locations.”
Indeed, looking across Ayrburn’s historic buildings, set against the dramatic Central Otago backdrop that has, since time immemorial, endeared visitors to this place, it’s clear that this dining destination is out of the ordinary.
Winton’s design team have created some of the best interiors and gardens seen in the region, with Ayrburn humming with history even as it leads New Zealand’s hospitality scene into the future. Sit in any one of its many venues (like The Manure Room, allegedly once used by tipplers to evade the authorities during prohibition) under the carefully-preserved, barn-like roofs, surrounded by an extensive collection of New Zealand art, and you’ll feel the special energy of the place. From its majestic, postcard views of the Remarkables and Coronet Peak to its perfectly manicured grounds where mature trees sit alongside a natural stream that winds through the outdoor tables, Ayrburn is a place where exceptional food, great wine and good times collide in one of the most spectacular settings in the world.
Sure to become a hive of activity as soon as it opens, and the scene of many memorable occasions to come, Ayrburn is exactly where you should find yourself the next time you head to Queenstown and its idyllic surrounds. “We wanted to create a destination where locals and visitors alike could spend the day with friends and family, to simply enjoy being together over world-class food and wine,” Meehan reiterates. A simple goal, executed perfectly, plan your visit now.