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Sweet Collaboration

Sweet Collaboration
Mt White Stations three managers Tim Prior (left), Kyla Nitschke (centre), and Sam Radford work together to make the farm a success. Photo: Sharon Davis

While farming is still the heart of a 40,000 hectare Canterbury high country station, tourism and honey production have been blended into the mix for a sweet collaboration.

Mt White Station has four full-time farm staff managing 18,000 head of stock including breeding hinds, Hereford cows, merino wethers and half-breed ewes.

While some areas are intensively farmed, farm manager Sam Radford said a lot of the farm still ran on traditional farming methods with horses used for much of the shepherding work during summer.

The farm runs from braided rivers to rugged mountain tops at the foot of the Southern Alps

Radford said the attraction of the station was its vastness and topography – and the challenges that come with that.

Bee and Honey manager Tim Prior said the farm runs 1100 hives with Italian honeybees. The bee keeping side of the business is large enough for the farm to run its own honey label from honey produced on-farm.

There is an extraction facility on-site and all the honey is processed on the farm.

Mt White Station honey includes a honeydew from the beech forest, a multi-flora Manuka and various grades of Manuka honey, including a new high-potency Manuka label that was due to launch before the start of December.

Prior said the station had plans to more than double the number of hives.

There are four bee keepers on farm and up to seven in the peak summer season.

It takes the bee keepers between three and four weeks to work through the hives on the farm, Prior said.

Tourism is the baby at Mt White. The station has only been welcoming guests for 18 months with a focus on corporate clients and Kiwi families.

The purpose-built elegant Shearer’s Lodge can accommodate up to 28 and caters for larger groups and corporate clients, with the old shearers’ quarters set up as an overflow for even larger groups.

Next door there is a fully-equipped kitchen in the Cook House that allows guests to choose catered or self-catered options along with a vege garden and a newly planted berry patch.

The two solar-powered remote backcountry huts, which can accommodate 12 each, provide a unique experience for families and smaller groups with most of the comforts of home in a rugged and natural setting.

The Esk and Terrace huts are between 17 and 27km and visitors can bike, hike (with luggage transfers) or get dropped off for their stay.

The station is well- equipped with 16 e-bikes available to rent and about as many stand-up paddle boards and canoes free-of-charge for guest use on chocolate-box setting of Lake Letitia.

Visitors can join a farm tour or bee keeping tour to learn more about Mt White Station.

Tourism manager Kyla Nitschke said bee keeping and tourism tied in well together, with many visitors buying honey to take home as a keepsake.

The bee tour, which takes visitors from hive to processing plant gave the station’s tourism a bit of a unique edge, she said.

by Sharon Davis