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Farm with royal connections goes on the market

Farm with royal connections goes on the market

A history-rich farm once visited by Prince Charles for a private day’s trout fishing has been placed on the market.

Macdonald’s Farm near Galatea in the Eastern Bay of Plenty is a sprawling 907 hectare sheep and beef breeding/finishing property. The Whirinaki River, which runs rich with rainbow and brown trout, is on the western boundary for the farm.

Prince Charles was flown into the farm during the royal family visit here in 1970 to celebrate the bicentennial discovery of New Zealand by Captain James Cook.

It was the first time Prince Charles had visited New Zealand. The young eco’ royal had to seek special permission from “mummy”, Queen Elizabeth II, to be excused from royal duties and enjoy a day’s fishing on the secluded river waters.

Macdonald’s Farm has been owned by members of the Macdonald family for almost 60 years. When first settled in the 1950s, the farm’s homestead consisted of a working jail house purchased from the Crown and relocated by truck out of the old Te Whaiti township.

For 13 years, the modified jail house was the family home before a bigger dwelling was built on an adjacent piece of flat land. The historic jail house still sits on the land today and is now used as commercial accommodation for fly fishermen coming onto the property to follow in the wader-steps of Prince Charles.

The farm consists predominantly of flat to easy contoured topography divided into 140 paddocks. It currently runs 10,000 stock units under a self-sustainable feeding model with no winter supplements. The property is being sold by an international tender through Bayleys Rotorua, with offers closing on November 14.

Bayleys Rotorua rural sales specialist Graham Beaufill said Macdonald’s Farm was one of the most historically-intriguing farms he had ever been involved with marketing.

“Not only do we have the royal angle, and the former jail house, but in 2003 some 278 hectares of the current farm was purchased from a neighbour. The block had been developed in the 1950’s/1960’s by the Presbyterian church as an agricultural training school for young Maori boys”, Mr Beaufill said.

“Since its inception in the 1950s, Macdonald’s Farm has evolved markedly – both in size and stock diversification, as undeveloped scrub land was turned into productive pasture, and at one stage even intensively deer farmed.”

The farm now sustains approximately 40 hectares of Lucerne, with annual cropping used on lamb finishing. With the farm currently having a supplement-free feeding policy, it’s an indication of how pasture grows well in the basin of the Whirinaki Rain Forest; although, it has previously farmed up to 15,000 stock units when silage was made on farm, Mr Beaufill said.

“With a milk tanker already passing by the gate, there are huge opportunities in converting this land to a large scale dairy unit, with support block all in one,” he added.

Natural springs, creeks and dams are used to top up water troughs via a gravity-fed system. An excellent central race enables access to the majority of paddocks – with rock, pumice and river shingle readily available from within the farm boundaries for race maintenance.

There are five accommodation dwellings – including the old jailhouse - on the farm. The main homestead is a five bedroom residence with two lounges and four bathrooms. A manager’s residence features a four-bedroom, two bathroom home built in 2012. The remaining homes encompass a four bedroom dwelling built in the 1940s, but recently refurbished and a three-bedroom abode relocated onto the site in 2006.

Farm infrastructure includes two four stand wool sheds – each capable of housing 1000 sheep under cover, and with their own modern cattle yards, as well as several hay barns, multiple implement sheds, and three half-round barns. The property has its own airstrip – complete with a 100 tonne fertiliser bin - to support nutrient application.

Mr Beaufill said that after almost 63 years of developing the property and expanding its size through acquisition of neighbouring landholdings, the Macdonald family had decided the time was right to move onto new ventures.

: Favoured as a fishing destination by royalty and containing its own converted jail house, Macdonald’s Farm is now on the market.


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