The Canyon is the vision of New Zealand native, Hayden Johnston. Originally from Dunedin and of Ngai Tahu descent, he bought the Tarras Vineyard location in 2002 and moved into the wine industry. In 2017 Hayden started on a new journey to create a stunning event space overlooking Tarras Vineyards, that truly connected with the land.
Alongside Tarras Vineyard, Hayden owns KURU KURU wines. The inspiration for Kuru Kuru actually comes from Hayden’s 4th great grandfather, who bought the Tuku Tuku land in 1836 and married his Maori grandmother Kuru Kuru of the Ngai Tahu tribe. The family origins inspired Kuru Kuru wines, with each bottle of KURU KURU proudly displaying her ta moko, the mark carved on her chin, signaling her respected position in Maori society.
Hayden dreamt of creating an elegant and quality venue, in an incredibly exclusive location. With its native flora in olive greens and browns, lichen-covered rocks, dramatic canyons and beautiful vistas; the space was too spectacular not to share.
Hayden was passionate about creating an exquisite venue to host an array of events, so that others could experience the stunning land and get back to nature.
His idea was to create an elegant, multi-purpose, event space, making it the biggest venue in the region, to share The Canyon’s magnificent setting with the world. His journey started with an incredibly unique build.
The Canyon’s main building, has had an interesting life! It was originally a restaurant at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell. When it closed down and was going to be bulldozed, Hayden saved the building; taking it from it’s previous life and giving it a new lease of life. He moved the restaurant 22.5km, from Cromwell to the Canyon location, perching it on top of the hill overlooking Tarras Vineyard. It was a dramatic move, due to the size of the large building; road signs had to be moved and traffic cleared, before it finally made it to its new home.
The buildings curved roof and natural colours, blends perfectly into its natural surroundings and from afar it is hard to tell the building is even there. Recycling and reusing materials are something Hayden is passionate about and he has carried this through the rest of the building. The bar has been built out of recycled pallets and the wastewater system is a natural system.
Alongside the restaurant, Hayden is also moving the old cinema from the motorsport park and will be placing that at The Canyon too; creating a unique 100 person capacity space, for small concerts and conferences, with acoustic lighting.
Getting its name from the dramatic canyon next to the vineyard, The Canyon provides the biggest space in the region, for a multitude of events. It boasts connected spaces, with the cinema, outdoor amphitheatre, main building and pagoda through to the outdoors; it has a range of areas to facilitate any event.
The venue prides itself on its quality and elegant fixtures and decor, as well as how it connects with its natural surroundings.