Maria Todhunter is learning the skills of classing wool from her grandfather, Bob. Classing wool ensures that each fleece is put into a line of similar type. This ensures that when then wool is baled up for sale, the end purchaser knows the wool is consistent and fits an exact specification.
Read our latest high country news and find out about life on a Canterbury high country station.
Lake Heron Station is right in the centre of the South Island. We can fly you just about anywhere. The spectacular West Coast is only a short trip away!
One of the big jobs in autumn is getting ewes in prime condition before mating in May. Here a mob has been sorted and is being moved to autumn grazing by shepherd, Hamish Fraser.
A fresh dump of snow did not deter a team of 8 from heading out on the autumn muster. Four days later they were back with a mob of 3,000 merino wethers. Each day involves an early start, a hearty breakfast and a big hill climb. The rest of the day is spent gathering small mobs of sheep into one large group, and then bringing them down to the valley floor.
A cold southerly front brought snow yesterday on the last day of summer. We have an incredibly fickle climate – 2 days ago we were basking in 28C+! However, the moisture in whatever form it takes, is a welcome relief for the pastures. Today we are back to balmy summer temperatures (thank goodness!)
One of the highlights of a day out in the hills, is spotting the birdlife. The kea is the world’s only alpine parrot and has a well-earned reputation for its cheek and intelligence. When out walking, its eerie call in the misty high crags, sends shivers down the spine. Then, next thing you know at a rest stop, these inquisitive birds will be hopping around your pack and poking at any objects left lying around.
Over 2700 merino wethers have arrived at the shearing shed after a 25km journey from the Upper Rakaia River. They will be shorn over the next few days. Each sheep produces about 5.5kgs of wool every year – most of it ending up in an Icebreaker garment. Check your Baa code to see if your Icebreaker comes from Lake Heron.
It has been a winter of 2 halves this year. In Late June we received a metre of snow in the valley. This storm was forecast days in advance so we had plenty of time to get stock into paddocks close to home. However, even so, it was still a major effort to get around to feed all the mobs.
Since then we’ve been blessed with warmer than average temperatures and an early spring.
The countdown begins to the start of the heliski season. There is fantastic cover already so we’re all set for a great winter.
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, make sure we see you here!
A southerly storm this week has moved up the country and in its wake has left a large quantity of fresh snow on the hills and a chill in the air. This morning we woke to a glorious day and -4C on the thermometer.
Autumn is the time of the “Roar” and the stags are now in full noise.
It is also the time of year that we offer guided red deer and tahr hunts on the station.
Our professional guides take you to the animals – whether you get photos, or a trophy, is up to you. The hunting is all free-range – a genuinely memorable wilderness experience.
The Nowhere Cycle Trail has developed from a concept into a reality! After a successful first season of trips, we have been enthused by the wonderful response from our guests. A theme in the comments has been that they’ve loved the adventure of the biking and equally they have loved the experience of going onto high country properties, meeting station owners and staying with those that live on the route.
The last month on the station has been one of glorious days and high temperatures. In this weather the best time to get stock work done is in the cool of the early morning. Once temps hit the 30s the going gets tough for sheep and dogs. Early morning is also a great time to get the best pics – here shepherd, Angel Wood, is silhouetted against the rising valley mist.
During the Xmas break we took a couple of days off to hike with our 3 children to the remote “Highland Home.”
This hut is a few hours walk (and a river crossing) away. After a cosy night, we got an early start to make the 700m climb over into Rocky Gorge.
Here the 2 boys are looking towards the Arrowsmith Mountains in the morning light.
With the end of year jobs almost complete, everyone took the day off on Thursday for a team rafting trip on the Rangitata River. This proved to be a fabulous day out with plenty of excitement in grade 4 and 5 rapids. Rangitata Rafts have been running trips for years – they provided great guides, all the equipment, and meals before and after the trip. This is one of those great Kiwi experiences that is tucked well off the beaten track. A highlight seemed to be re-telling the stories of jumping into the river from 9 meters above!!!
As the summer season progresses, it is vital to get winter crops planted while there is still plenty of moisture in the ground. Most of the crops are planted by direct drilling which is a great way to get the seed and fertilizer into the ground without turning over soil. This ensures that there is a minimum of moisture loss and gets seeds off to a good start. This image shows a roller drill at work – planting a new paddock of lucerne seed.
Spring and early summer are the most changeable time of year for weather on the station. In this image the temperature went from 25C one day to 3C the next with accompanying snow falling nearly into the valley floor.
The Canterbury A & P Show is always a big event in the local calendar. This year the show celebrated its 150th year. Well supported by city and country folk alike, the show is a great opportunity to showcase rural life to the wider community. Usually Lake Heron enters fleece wool for judging and this year we received a third for our entry in the merino ewe/wether category.
The fleece will go on to be judged at the Otago Merino Association’s Annual Competition and the proceeds of all competition fleeces are then donated to the Child Cancer Foundation.
During a brief weather clearance in the mountains on Tuesday, the annual pre-shearing muster was sucessfully completed. A southerly snowfall beforehand added a wintery feel to the day. The snow also created a flurry outside the helicopter as each party was dropped into position on first light. However, by early afternoon the valley snow cleared and the mobs of merinos became more visible on the faces. A few hours later the mobs were joined up and herded into the “Wether Paddock” to await the final journey back to the homestead area for shearing.
Once again veteran musterer, Kevin Boekholt was part of the team and took this great shot of Head Shepherd, Cory Hollister, perusing the hillsides.
The Lake Heron merino ewes have all been shorn and the trucks have left to start the journey to Icebreaker.
As the wool comes off the sheep’s back, it is classed into various lines according to fibre diameter, length and strength. The wool classing is a family tradition and Bob Todhunter has been classing the “Lake Heron clip” for many years. Bob has a keen interest in the resulting wool, as he and son Ben, breed the rams for the station.
The wool press is shown here compacting the wool fibre into bales of 180-190kgs – a convenient weight for shipment. Next time you purchase an Icebreaker garment, check out the “Baa” code to trace the origins of the fibre – it may be from here!