Prominent philanthropist and author sells high country station for undisclosed sum
A substantial high country farm owned by leading New Zealand businesswoman, philanthropist and author Christine Fernyhough has been sold for an undisclosed sum.
Castle Hill Station in North Canterbury is a 3056 hectare farm adjoining the Torlesse and Craigeburn ranges and running 6591 stock units. It was bought by a husband and wife duo of Canterbury farmers who had sold their family cropping unit to move into a less time-intensive sheep, beef and deer operation.
The sale was brokered by Ruth Hodges of Bayleys Canterbury. An extensive marketing campaign for Castle Hill Station began in 2012, with a substantial number of inspections from a variety of interested purchasers, both local and international.
Christine Fernyhough bought Castle Hill Station in 2004 for $2.4million, with the Conservation Department taking on 8,000 hectares of what had originally been an 11,000ha block. That occasion was the first time a Crown entity had partnered with private enterprise to purchase a high country station.
Since taking over the property, Fernyhough and her husband John Bougen have improved its output considerably through an intensive regrassing, oversowing, and fertilizing programme, combined with the construction of a vast fencing network for better stock management and installation of a new trough watering system.
Ms Hodges said the new owners, , had indicated they intended keeping Castle Hill Station in its current format – including staffing levels, and stocking ratios.
“There was strong interest in this property – both for its productive capacity, and for its heritage value,” said Ms Hodges. “One of the key selling points was the immense improvement in productivity which Christine and John had achieved in the space of nine years by taking a regimented management approach .
“Most of the interest in the property emanated from the wider Canterbury region, with potential buyer enquiry also coming from the Waikato, Wairarapa, Taranaki and Otago regions. There was also some very creditable offshore enquiry.
“Both the vendors and the purchasers though are extremely happy that Castle Hill’s tenure has remained in New Zealand ownership – Canterbury ‘locals’ in fact.”
Christine Fernyhough, wrote the bestselling memoir The Road To Castle Hill: A High Country Love during her time on the high country farm, along with the books Ben and Mark: Boys of the High Country, and more recently Dart of Castle Hill.
Before taking over the reigns of Castle Hill, literally, Christine Fernyhough had a career in the corporate sector, and established the Books in Homes initiative, and then the Gifted Kids Programme for high achieving children in low decile schools. In 2011 she was made a Companion in the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community.