Hospitality Business Magazine

Ayrburn – where innovation meets heritage in Queenstown

Queenstown’s latest hospitality destination is scheduled to officially open this Saturday, December 9 with an exclusive list of 150 guests of private investors and celebrities expected to attend. Called Ayrburn, the new venue is marketed as ‘ a place where innovation meets heritage’.

Ayrburn currently sports five venues on site with a further four reportedly scheduled to join in 2024. The Woolshed welcomes casual diners in a bright and welcoming atmosphere, with the interestingly named Manure Room housing Ayrburn’s exclusive wine range. The Burr Bar, named after the late property developer and arts supporter, Adrian Burr, provides cocktails and more in a luxurious and intimate bar; The Dairy offers freshly made gelato; and The Dell resides as a central outdoor social venue.

The new precinct claims it is set to redefine New Zealand’s culinary scene, and Ayrburn developer Chris Meehan has invited a veritable who’s who of Auckland and Queenstown to the opening event at the property, which has a history dating back over 150 years as a farm. (See details below).

Architects S A Studio and interior designers Alexander & Co have preserved many aspects of the site’s buildings to ensure their heritage remain part of the site’s charm.

Meehan believes his dining precinct off the Arrowtown -Lake Hayes Rd will become one of the resort town’s top three world-class attractions.

Executive Chef, Richard Highnam, known widely amongst Aucklanders for his work at Good Group’s White + Wongs, Harbourside and Botswana Butchery, leads the Ayrburn culinary team . 

After chasing the desire for the outdoor Queenstown lifestyle with his family, Richard has been working to create menus that offer both variety and pair well with Ayrburn’s extensive wine range.

He says he felt inspired by Meehans vision of creating a destination and this guided his approach to each menu across the venues, ensuring visitors could enjoy the location no matter the occasion. 

“If you want to travel through the bike trails with the kids, have a couple of drinks and ice cream then move on you can but there’s certainly the options here for more intimate dining or a group dinner.”

And the food scene at Ayrburn is only expected to grow as the final venues finish development, including a bakehouse and butcher, allowing the team to do as much as they can onsite and offer fresh daily specials.

“There’s going to be a lot of collaboration between, our baker who can provide all breads, pizzas and pastries for the property and the butcher as we plan to implement things like a meat programme where we’ll have large cabinets for a lot of our aging beef.”

In the meantime, however, the initial summer menu promises fresh flavours with a sense of classic elegance.
Executive Chef Richard Highnam’s Woolshed Menu Picks Include:

  • Asian Spiced Duck, Lemon Grass & Date Relish, Nashi Pear, White Kimchi
  • Pork Schnitzel, Fennel & Apple Slaw, Parmesan, Caper 

Woolshed Menu highlights:

  • Market Fish Crudo, Cucumber, Fermented Chilli, Mandarin, Coriander, Ajo Blanco Sauce
  • Grilled octopus, black garlic emulsion, chilli sesame dressing, compressed green apple
  • Heirloom Tomato, Pulled Burrata, olives & Basil 

The Burr Bar Picks:

  • The Green Lady – Lemon gin, limoncello, basil, lemon
  • Jalisco Jardin – Tequila, cucumber, jalapeño, agave, lime juice

Ayrburn Heritage

Over 150 years ago, Scottish born William Paterson came across an expansive piece of land destined for remarkable things. With a backdrop of beauty and foreground of rural opportunity, Ayrburn Farm was established as one of the first farms in the area not long after W.G Rees settled in the district in 1860 and gold was discovered in the Shotover River in 1862.

Paterson connected his slice of New Zealand land with his Scottish heritage, naming it after the town ‘Ayr’ where he was born in West Kilbride Scotland, with ‘burn’ being the Scottish word for stream, as a nod to Mill Creek that runs through the property.

The colonial-victorian Ayrburn Homestead was built in the 1890s, asserting itself as a country estate spanning a substantial 290 sqm with over five bedrooms, nine chimneys and wood detail throughout. The solid construction flowed through from the multiple farm buildings at Ayrburn, reflecting Paterson’s success, all of which are at the core of how the Ayrburn story continues for years to come.

In 1904, Ayrburn Farm hosted the district’s first A&P show, connecting the rural community to develop the region’s farming and agriculture excellence. Ayrburn Farm remained a successful and productive wheat, sheep and dairy farm up until the early 21st century.

Ayrburn Farm is too special not to share, so in 2023, Ayrburn Farm will once again open its gates and welcome people to this picturesque location to create their own Ayrburn memories over food and wine.

The old farm buildings continue to be the main characters in the story of Ayrburn. Remediation of the woolshed, stables, cart shed and dairy started in October 2021 and will continue through to opening. The remediation process is delicate and slow, deconstructing each building and then recreating it with stronger hidden structures. However, retaining heritage features like the curved roof in the cart shed is essential to the execution and heart of Ayrburn, morphing the history and natural landscape with refinement to deliver a food and wine experience for the entire family to enjoy. (Source –

Ayr Avenue, Arrowtown, New Zealand.