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 people, 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 and sold around the world for use in luxury suits, active outdoor wear and even woollen shoes!
Family life at Mt Nicholas
Since 1976 the Butson family has farmed the property. Kate and her husband Jack and Dave and his partner Regina along with their families live on the property, Kate works on the farm and Dave is a local helicopter pilot. Their children are the fourth generation are now growing upon the station. The Station is also home to a stock manager, tourism manger, two full-time shepherds and a cook and handyman. There is also a total of 7 children on the Station.
Mount Nicholas Station
PO Box 98
Te Anau 9640
Tish +64 27 328 1485
Kate + 64 21 552 409