Templeton Flax Mill Heritage Museum
Situated at Otaitai Beach just 3km from Riverton and 30km from Invercargill. Turn off Riverton-Wallacetown Highway onto Otaitai Bush Road, then Templeton Road. Look out for the sign, and then the big red corrugated iron shed.
Ngā haora mahi
The Flax Mill Museum is open for visitors to browse and view plant, interpretation panels and historic photos.
Working demonstrations of flax fibre processing are available by appointment. Clubs, schools and bus tours are hosted by appointment. For bookings, see contact details above.
Admission by donation (hosted visitors $5.00 per adult; children free)
• Nationally recognised as New Zealand’s only authentic flax mill plant operating on its original 1940s site.
• Showcases 1860s to 1970s flax processing technology in particular flax milling in Southland. "The working museum, with its still operational stripper and scutcher provides outstanding insight into this once highly significant industry." - New Zealand Historic Places Trust
• A popular heritage attraction on the Riverton/ Aparima District Heritage Trail.
• Annual Museum open days are held for the Southland public to view live demonstrations of fibre processing. Usually held in March each year as part of Southland Heritage Month (cancelled 2022). These open days typically attract 300-400 visitors.
• In 2010 New Zealand Historic Places Trust gave the Templeton Flax Mill Category 1 recognition (see
• A brief timeline of the flax mill's operation:
1911 – William Templeton commenced flax milling at Otaitai Bush on a 2,000 acre property near Riverton
1924 – Andrew Templeton took over the operation
1943 – Fire destroyed scutcher shed, requiring new buildings
1943 – Andrew commissions new flax mill at Otanomomo, South Otago
1947 – Andrew’s son Des Templeton commenced work at Otaitai Bush
1971 – Otaitai Bush Flax Mill closes in December
1972 – Otanomomo Flax mill closes a few months later
(The New Zealand Flax Milling Industry became uneconomic due to competition from overseas fibre and oil based synthetics).
• The Templeton Flax Milling Heritage Trust was formed in 2000 to restore Otaitai Bush flax mill under Chairman Desmond Templeton. The museum opened in 2004 after hundreds of volunteer hours restoring buildings and plant. Des was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to flax milling heritage just prior to his death in 2011.
• Acknowledging our funders: This heritage project has been made possible with the generous funding support of the following organisations:
- Southland District Council
- The Community Trust of Southland
- Lottery Grants Board
- Venture Southland
- Southland Spirit of a Nation
- The Stout Trust