Our families have loved, lived and toiled in the Catlins for well over a hundred years. The Hilltop story really began around 1880 when Murdoch and Mary McLennan and their eight children settled in the Tahakopa Valley. Many local place names, including nearby Florence Hill (the lookout to Tautuku Bay) are named after this pioneer farming family from Scotland who are direct ancestors of the present owners.
A grandfather of two of the present owners, Henry Evans, grew up in nearby Tahakopa in the early 1900's, where he went to school and worked at a local sawmill with his father. Later he married and raised a family of nine children, while working down the road at a sawmill at Niagara near Waikawa.
The visitor accommodation began around 1993 when Rodney McDonald, brother and son of the present owners (and great great grandson of Murdoch and Mary McLennan), saw the need to provide somewhere for the increasing numbers of tourists to stay and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of this unspoilt area. He transported the former Te Anau schoolhouse by truck to his farm, and five years later also moved the century old coal miners cottage from Kaitangata , near Balclutha. Both houses were refurbished to create Hilltop.
Hilltop Catlins is now run by a team of family and local duty managers who feel the need to retain and enhance this special lodge for our guests.