Mt Nicholas station sits on the western shores of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. The stunning lakeside property is largely in its natural state.
The property’s 29,000 merino sheep take advantage of the native pasture in the high country during summer and are brought down to lower pastures over winter. “We’re lucky to have quite a lot of remnant beach forest on the property, and also a lot of regenerating beach forest. The forests support our native ecosystems and they also provide really good shelter for stock.”
The forest also protects the soil and helps prevent erosion.
“It’s a really nice way to farm, to just have your farming operation combining with the natural environment - and there’s no reason why they can’t coexist. All of our native ecosystems - our birds and our lizards and our bugs and, and all the things that make New Zealand unique - can just live in harmony with the farm,” Kate says.
The Department of Conservation has recently done a lizard counting project on the farm, which showed Mt Nicholas station has a thriving population of both skinks and geckos.
“It’s cool just to know that they’re there,” Kate says. “And obviously they are an important part of the food chain. I’ve been told by an ecologist that if you’ve got a lot of native falcons, then you’ve got a really healthy ecosystem underneath and we’ve got a lot of native falcons here.”
Mt Nicholas is also home to beautiful rivers. “Looking after them is really important to us. We test all the rivers at varying points four times a year and that gives us a good baseline of data that we can continue to monitor. Our aim is to have everything at drinkable standards at all times.”
For Kate, supporting biodiversity on the property is about learning to work with nature.
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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.
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