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Episode 29: Taste of the South

On the next episode, screening August 30 at 7pm on TV ONE:

Taste of the South

Bruce and Ngaire Heslip could see the potential of nearly 1000 hectares of wild tussock in Southland's Hokonui Hills when they took it on in the mid-1960s-but they couldn't have imagined just how far its development would go.

The land had no road, house or farm buildings and just one dividing fence and one tree. The rest was tussock which they were told would winter 700 sheep.

Today the farm runs more than 10 times that number of stock units and supports two growing families.

In the early years, Bruce and Ngaire developed the land by buying thousands of over-fat ewes that no-one else wanted. They erected enough fences to control where the stock grazed, ensuring they ate the ferns and weeds.

The sheep lost weight, becoming more valuable in the marketplace, and, at the same time, they improved the land, which could then be over-sowed with better quality grass seed.

Bruce spent many hours ploughing the flat country so it could be planted in crops and grass and by the time the couple's children grew up, the farm was well enough developed for two of them to take it over. 

Today, sons Mark and Paul Heslip, who now have their own families, make a living from the land they were born and brought up on.

Bruce and Ngaire have retired to Gore, but the new generation has continued the development started by their parents.

The brothers have kept a balance between increasing productivity and retaining the land's natural features. They've left the steeper areas in tussock, which helps preserve water quality and gives stock places to shelter in bad weather.

But they've also established a new business selling meat direct to consumers. 

Every week, sheep and cattle are sent off the farm to be killed, before going to a local butcher who packages them into cuts for sale. 

But before they're readied for consumers, the meat is aged on the bone in the traditional way, giving it a richer taste.

The Heslips say it's more like the traditional home kill meat that rural people ate in the past-and it's found a growing market.

Almost all their cattle and about 15 per cent of their lambs now go through their Farmgate Meats business. 

For more about Farmgate Meats:

For more about the Winton area: or




Frank Torley

Barrington West

Field Sound
John Patrick

Mike Townsend

Colour Grader
Alex Wright

Sound Mixer
Ian Leslie

Post Production Manager
Bailey Palmer

Production Manager
Robyn Best

Vivienne Jeffs

Network Executive
Jude Callen

Associate Producer
Dan Henry

Julian O'Brien