The Canyon is the vision local kiwi, Hayden Johnston. Originally from Dunedin and of Ngai Tahu descent, Hayden bought the Tarras Vineyards location in 2002 and moved into the wine industry. In 2017 Hayden started on a new journey to create a stunning event space on a very special location overlooking the vineyards and a dramatic schist rock canyon with breathtaking views.

Alongside Tarras Vineyards, Hayden owns KURU KURU wines. The inspiration for Kuru Kuru comes from Hayden’s 4th great grandfather, who bought the Tuku Tuku land in 1836 and married his Maori great grandmother Kuru Kuru of the Ngai Tahu tribe. The family origins inspired Kuru Kuru wines, with each bottle of KURU KURU proudly displaying her moko kauae, the mark carved on her chin, signaling her respected position in Maori society. The iconic painting presiding over The Canyon venue is a symbol of Kuru Kuru, honouring her mana.


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 called The Nose. When it closed down Hayden hatched a plan to save the building from demolition. He moved the restaurant 22.5km, from Cromwell to the Canyon location, perching it on top of the hill. It was a dramatic move, due to the size of the large building; road signs had to be moved, power lines lowered and traffic cleared with a team of 7 pilot vehicles.

The restaurant's curved roof and natural colours blend perfectly into the 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 also moved the old cinema from the Motorsport Park creating a unique, acoustic lined space for intimate concerts, conferences and exhibitions.


Getting its name from the dramatic canyon next to the vineyard, The Canyon provides a large space with an intimate feel for a multitude of events. It boasts connected spaces, with the theatre, entrance barrel, restaurant building and large outdoor terrace. There's a range of areas to facilitate any event.

The quality built, elegant fixtures, furniture and decor connects and merges beautifully with the natural surroundings.


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