The town was established in 1861, and was named after Thomas Winton, who regularly drove stock through this area in the late 1850s. Whilst searching for strayed stock, he had occasion to camp by the banks of the small stream, which became known as Winton Creek. The town took its name from the creek.
Winton first came to prominence in the days of the gold rushes, as it was one of the stops en route to the goldfields.
The fine agricultural and pastoral possibilities of the countryside around Winton were recognised at an early stage, and so it came about that Winton is probably the oldest inland town in Southland. Winton was first surveyed in 1863-64.
There are a number of historic buildings in Winton, click the links below to rediscover the history behind a few of them.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church – Constructed in 1876 to a design by eminent Invercargill architect, Frederick William Burwell (1846-1915), Winton’s Holy Trinity Church was one of Burwell’s first Southland churches. An example of New Zealand Gothic Revival architecture, this timber Anglican church is prominently located on Great North Road.
Jamieson’s Building (Former) – In 1894 when Robert Jamieson
opened the doors of his bakery and refreshment rooms on Great North Road in the small Southland town of Winton, his name emblazoned across the façade of the building, he provided a place to make bread and serve meals and hospitality to those travelling through Winton and locals alike.
Railway Hotel (Former) – The bar has been open in the handsome Edwardian Railway Hotel in Winton since 1911. Designed by prominent Invercargill architect CJ Brodrick, replacing an earlier building destroyed by fire in 1910, the Hotel, now known as Central Southland Lodge, remains a meeting place for locals and travellers alike.
For more info on Historic buildings in Winton please visit
Stories from Our Past
Minnie Dean (The Winton Baby Farmer) – In 1895 Southland’s Williamina (Minnie) Dean became the first – and only – woman to be hanged in New Zealand. Her story exposed the stark realities of paid childcare and the lack of choice that many women faced in this period.
Winton was formerly a railway junction but is no longer served by any trains. On 22 February 1871, a railway line from Invercargill was opened to Winton, built to the international standard gauge of 1,435mm. This was the furthest extent of Southland’s standard gauge network, and the next section to Caroline was built to New Zealand’s national gauge, 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge railway. This extension opened on 20 October 1875, ending Winton’s 4.5 years as a railway terminus, and two months later, the line back to Invercargill was converted to 1,067mm gauge. This line grew to be the Kingston Branch. In 1883, a bush tramway was built eastwards from Winton, and in the 1890s, it was rebuilt to railway standards as a branch line and opened as the Hedgehope Branch on 17 July 1899. It established Winton as a railway junction, and the town functioned in this capacity until 1 January 1968, when the Hedgehope Branch closed. The Kingston line, once one of the more important lines in the country, declined during the 1970s, and most of it closed on 13 December 1982, including the portion through Winton. Today, little remains of Winton’s railway, though its route can be discerned.
Contact us if you have some interesting stories from Winton’s History, we would love to post them on the site.