Off grid and thriving On a stunning lakeside sheep station, 100 kilometres from the nearest town, the Cocks family has made self-sufficiency into an art form.
“We are well, well, well off the grid here,” says wool grower Kate Cocks, whose family has owned Mt Nicholas Station since the 1970s.
From our vantage point on a rolling grassy hill, we can see out to Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu and the jagged, snow capped mountains beyond. Down the other slope is a small wetland.“This was swamp land until it was dammed in the 1950s to provide electricity for the station. All our power is supplied by the hydro. We generate about 40 kilowatts of electricity from our hydro, which is enough to run the five houses on the station, plus the wool shed.”
In the 1980s, Kate’s parents saw there was a lot of native bird life around the lagoon and put the land into a trust so that it would always be preserved for the future. “We’ve got a lot of crested grebes, lots of little teals, black swans, craiks and various other migratory birds. We have fenced the wetland and control weeds around the perimeter. Some of the most enjoyable aspects about living here are the biodiversity that a property like this offers, and it’s fantastic to be preserving that and looking after it.”
Mt Nicholas produces power, food and education. Kate and her husband Jack supervise the children in correspondence school. Their teacher is based in Dunedin and lessons are online or arrive by mail. The farm is also a classroom for Jess and Tom.
“I think it’s great being able to have kids out and about in nature. This is a fantastic place to grow up - there’s lots of fun, lots of adventure, lots of recreation opportunities. With my children growing up here now, it’s like being able to go through a second childhood.”
The farm grows much of its food. “It’s a long way to the supermarket, so we’ve got a massive organic veggie garden and a big orchard that was established in the early 1900s. When the kids were little, they could just go out and pull a carrot straight out and eat it.”
The farm also has a berry house and raises chickens and pigs for the food. “It involves quite a lot of skill - living and working in a place like this. And also a lot of patience at times. They’re beautiful places to live, but they’re not the easiest places to live either. I think being self-sufficient here, it’s a choice, but it’s also actually much more convenient as well.”
ZQRX wool growers not only produce the highest quality, most ethical wool in the world, they also work to give more than they take from the natural world, the animals living in that world, and the human communities interacting with it.
Growers use a new platform called the Regenerative Index (RX) to help them measure and improve how much they give back as they restore waterways, protect native species, offset carbon, and enhance local communities.
ZQRX wool is essentially a recipe for how we might produce and consume things in the future where products will not only change our lives for the better, they will change our entire world for the better by giving a little more than they take.