Fyffe House, Kaikoura

A link to Kaikoura's whaling past, Fyffe House is the town's oldest surviving building. It has seen Kaikoura grow from a whaling station to a farming and fishing community and port, then to today's whale watching centre. Evidence from these times can be seen in the house and grounds.

See a scene little altered from the past, looking across the sea from Avoca Point to the beautiful Seaward Kaikoura mountains. Imagine what it would have been like to bring up a family here when everything you didn't produce yourself came in little coastal ships. Listen as the curator takes you back to simpler but more rugged and dangerous days.

The Fyffes

Fyffe House began as part of the Waiopuka whaling station, founded in 1842 by Robert Fyfe. Originally a two roomed cooper's cottage, it was extended in about 1860 by settler George Fyffe (Robert's cousin, spellings differed) and his wife Catherine. Built of native timbers with lath and plaster interior and mud and straw insulation, the house looks much as it did then - even the colours are the ones they chose.

The Goodalls

From 1868 this was for more than 40 years the home of Joseph and Margaret Goodall and their family. Joseph, at first the local police constable, later held a variety of public offices in Kaikoura. He then managed the nearby wharf, built in 1881. His wharf shed was near the house, and next to it was the Pier Hotel which he had built in 1885 - and it is still standing, though moved from its original position. Across the road is a chimney which is all that remains of the customs house.

The Lows

In the early twentieth century, the Low family lived here for over 60 years, farming, fishing, and working on the wharf. Their cows, sheep, hens, and vegetable garden are gone- but some of their furniture remains in the house, and George Low's boat is still there. The pretty cottage garden created by a former curator is a reminder of Maud Low's garden.

Fyffe House was left to the Trust in 1980 by George Low and the cottage was repaired and upgraded to provide accommodation for the tenant-curator. A recent conservation project included further upgrading, and during the thorough investigation of the house, the original bread oven was discovered. The plastered walls were repaired using traditional techniques, by a retired plasterer - found after a long search - and the woodwork was once more grained as in the Fyffe's day. Further information on the conservation, decoration, and history can be found inside Fyffe House, and a book telling its story is available for sale.

Opening Hours and Admission

For information about property operating hours phone Fyffe House, (03) 3195835.

A small admission fee is charged at each New Zealand Historic Places Trust property. Membership of the Trust provides free admission to New Zealand Historic Places Trust properties.

Fyffe House
62 Avoca Street
Ph 03-319-5835