Mt Nicholas is one of the most historic and largest stations in New Zealand. It spans 100,000 acres (40,000 Hectares) from the shores of Lake Wakatipu to deep into Southland and is home to 30,000 Merino Sheep and 2,200 Hereford Cattle.
While Mt Nicholas has benefitted from the many improvements in farming over the last 150 years, the Station enjoys relative isolation and is still largely self-sufficient. Hydro electricity is produced on-farm, as is much of the food consumed on the station.
Early station life
Originally settled in the 1860’s it was a challenging and often daunting life for the early pioneers, with issues to contend with such as plagues of rabbits, heavy snowfalls and the closest neighbour a two-day horse ride away.
Traditional farming practices
Many tried and tested farming practices such as mustering stock on horseback or foot are maintained. This includes the annual ‘fall muster’ which is a ten day adventure for seven men, 30 dogs, and seven horses mustering in 9,000 merino wethers from the mountain tops prior to the winter snow falls.
Innovation and sustainability
While traditional high country farming practices exist, these are complemented with modern farming technology to ensure the station remains a sustainable business for the long term. Mt Nicholas is still subject to severe climatic variability requiring careful planning to ensure it functions smoothly.
The iconic merino sheep thrives in the climatic extremes found in this harsh mountain environment. The wool and lamb produced by Mt Nicholas merinos is marketed by the New Zealand Merino Company to two New Zealand companies; outdoor apparel company Icebreaker and supplier of merino lamb Silere Alpine Origin Merino.
Family life at Mt Nicholas
Since 1976 the Butson family has farmed the property. Robert and Linda Butson still reside on the property with their adult children Kate and Dave.
Kate and her husband Jack have taken over the management of the property, while Dave also lives on the Station with his partner Regina and works locally as a helicopter pilot.
Bruce Collins and Adrienne McNatty manage tourism on Mt Nicholas. The Station also employs two full-time shepherds and a cook and handyman in addition to seasonal farm staff.
Mount Nicholas Station
Bruce Collins & Adrienne McNatty
P.O. Box 1882
Phone: +64 3 409 0712
Mobile: +64 27 383 6699