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Burnside Homestead History

The BURN-SIDE, situated in the heart of the Waitaki Valley, was where John Reid of Elderslie Scotland first settled c.1864. Reid invested in large tracts of North Otago country establishing the Elderslie estate of 35000 acres. In 1874 the new ELDERSLIE mansion was completed on the main road and Burnside became the working farm. The mansion was sadly destroyed by fire in 1957. Back in the 1860’s the tree planting and landscaping of Elderslie and Burnside was begun before any erection of buildings, earning it the accolade of “A sylvan landscape without compare in all new Zealand.” 


John Forrester Reid , the eldest of the twelve Elderslie children, inherited the Burn-side part of the Estate and developed the Burnside Homestead site in the 1890’s, completing it probably in 1900.  J.F.Reid, his wife, and two children, plus a household of seven servants lived there until his death in 1928. The Hudsons' of Dunedin bought Burnside in 1930, owning it until 1974. Next the Albistons' owned and lived in it until 2020, being the fortunate inheritors of the two previous families endowments including substantially the original fabric and furnishings. Since 1995 it has been open as a country lodge for accommodation and functions. The current owners are Marcus and Cathy Holgate. The wonderful setting is now mature parkland and the homestead continues virtually unchanged and restored. 


It was in the Burnside Homestead drawing room in the mid 1980’s that the gracious grand-daughter of Reid and the only daughter of J.F. Reid, the late Mrs Joan Douglas born Burnside 1902, told the Albistons' her family’s history. Most pertinently she observed that the room in which they sat was just as she remembered it in her childhood. 


Architecturally the homestead is highly distinctive with its elaborately gabled façade and return verandah. Internally twenty rooms revolve around an octagonal GREAT HALL, lit by Cathedral like rose glass clerestory windows. A century on you can enjoy the benefits of a 19th century Scottish country gentleman’s mansion. 

Extracts from the Category I registration by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust cite ‘the visual and aesthetic impression conveyed by these exterior and interior architectural details is one of outstanding quality….determined essentially by the octagonal Great Hall- a feature unique to Burnside not found in any other registered historic villa. …(in)..a mature and evidently historical setting...clearly of great beauty and aesthetic quality.’ 


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