Slice of Heaven
On the next episode screening 6 July at 7pm on TV ONE
Slice of Heaven
Most high country stations are tucked away in remote parts of the country but it's the opposite for Closeburn Station - manager Grant McMaster can hop in his car and be in Queenstown in just 10 minutes.
And that's not the only thing that's different about Closeburn. In contrast to the relaxed welcome visitors often get at high country farms, Closeburn has a security gate at its entrance and it's comparatively small, covering less than 2,000 hectares.
Nor is it the classic Kiwi family-owned farm. Closeburn is owned by 27 shareholders, many of whom live overseas.
But it's very much a working farm and Grant, an outgoing character who moved there from Southland seven years ago, has had an impact on the station.
He's changed from farming fine wool sheep to Perendales and lifted lambing percentages from barely 100 per cent when he arrived to a creditable 135 per cent last season.
Grant's also breaking in Closeburn's scrub-covered slopes, using a combination of aerial spraying and cattle to turn the land into productive pasture.
Grant answers to a board of directors, selected by the farm's owners, who are responsible for approving his plans and the farm's budget. The joint owners are all successful business people who find it the fluctuating prices for lamb and wool a challenge. As manager, Grant says he also finds the fluctuations frustrating.
Grant actively involves the owners in his day-to-day work and is always happy to answer their questions. Few of them have in-depth agricultural knowledge, which Grant says is both a blessing and a problem. For example, they questioned him closely when they proposed burning the scrub he had sprayed, a normal practice on many farms.
But there is one factor that unites Grant and all the owners - a love of the high country and a desire to retain its heritage. An example is their plan to spend thousands of dollars refurbishing an historic cottage on the station.
Overall, Grant reckons he's a lucky man with the best job in New Zealand.
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