Tarras is a small farming settlement in Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Location of Tarras within New Zealand
Coordinates: 44°50′S 169°25′E
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authorityCentral Otago District
290 m (950 ft)
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
  Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Area code03
Local iwiNgāi Tahu
Tarras (July 2021)

Tarras is located on the slopes above the upper reaches of the Clutha Valley, on State Highway 8. It is the first village reached by travellers heading south through the Lindis Pass, and is close to the junction where travellers from Mount Cook turn west towards Hawea, Wanaka, and the Haast Pass.

Farming and agriculture

Most farms in the Tarras district run sheep, principally merino farmed for their super-fine wool. Some also raise other sheep breeds and deer. Many farms have converted to beef cattle since the 2010 introduction of large-scale irrigation.[1]

Shrek, a hermit Merino sheep, was caught in the hills of Tarras on 15 April 2004,[2] after hiding away in caves for six years.[3] He was shorn live on national television,[4][5] to produce fleece for men's coats.[6][7] Shrek was euthanised on 6 June 2011 on a veterinarian's advice, at the age of 16.[2]

Vineyards have been established in the area since 2000. The vineyards grow mainly pinot noir and riesling grapes, with some plantings of pinot gris. The Tarras vineyards include Maori Point Vineyard and Swallows Crossing Vineyard.[8][9] They are formally classified as being in the Bendigo sub-region of the Central Otago wine region.[10]

Sunny and dry climate

Tarras is one of the driest areas in New Zealand, with annual rainfall of between 300 and 500 millimetres (12 and 20 in).[11]

The valley around Tarras is the sunniest in Otago, with over 2,100 sunshine hours per year.[12] The valley is hot in summer, with a median average daily temperature over 22 °C (295 K), and cold in winter: the median average daily minimum is then below −2 °C (28 °F). [12]


The Anglican and Presbyterian Tarras Church includes kneelers created to celebrate the centennial of New Zealand women's suffrage.[13]

Tarras Rural Women publish the community newsletter, Tarras Talk.[13]

The Tarras Tearooms is a historic waystation for travellers through the Lindis Pass.[13]


Tarras School is a co-educational state primary school for Year 1 to 8 students,[14][15] with a roll of 11 as of March 2021.[16]

The school has published a children's books about Shrek the sheep to raise funds for the school and its students.[17] The book was written by school children and edited by teachers and parents.[18]

Airport proposal

Early in 2020, Christchurch Airport bought farmland between highways SH 8 and SH 8a next to Tarras, with the intention of creating a new international airport which could serve the Wanaka and Queenstown areas.[19][20]


  1. Duff, Geoffrey P (1978). Sheep May Safely Graze: The Story of Morven Hills Station and the Tarras District. Central Otago District: G Duff.
  2. "Shrek the celebrity sheep dies". Otago Daily Times. 6 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  3. "Hermit sheep 'Shrek' shorn of 6-year-old woolly fleece". China Daily. 29 April 2004. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  4. "NZ's famous sheep gets TV haircut". BBC. 28 April 2004. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  5. Booth, Jenny (28 April 2004). "Shrek the sheep shorn at last". London: BBC. Archived from the original on 16 May 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  6. "2002 Australian wool production survey, giving (p. 6) average Merino fleece weights" (PDF). agric.wa.gov.au. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  7. "Merino stud ram listed (p 3) with fleece weight of 16.2 kg" (PDF). sunnyvalley.com.au. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
  8. "Maori Point Vineyard".
  9. "Swallows Crossing Vineyard".
  10. "Bendigo Vineyards and Wineries". Central Otago Winegrowers Association.
  11. "Lindis catchment and Bendigo-Tarras Basin: Information Sheet" (PDF). Otago Regional Council. April 2014. p. 2.
  12. Macara, G.R. The Climate and Weather of Otago (PDF) (2nd ed.). NIWA. p. 31.
  13. A Tapestry of Tarras: Local Stories Told in Stitches. Dunedin: [Women’s Division of Federated Farmers, Tarras Branch, 1997].
  14. "Tarras School Official School Website". tarras.school.nz.
  15. "Tarras School Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  16. "Tarras School Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.
  17. "Cromwell and Bannockburn". centralotagonz.com. Central Otago Tourism.
  18. "Shrek: The Famous Hermit Sheep of Tarras". thechildrensbookshop.co.nz. The Children's Bookshop.
  19. "New airport mooted for New Zealand's South Island ski area". The Guardian. 23 July 2020.
  20. Price, Mark (22 July 2020). "New airport mooted for Central Otago". Otago Daily Times.