Prestigious, historic Northburn Station for sale
July 2023

Prestigious, historic Northburn Station for sale

One of Central Otago’s most spectacular and prestigious high country stations, producing premium quality fine wool since the 1850s, is for sale.

Claiming New Zealand’s furthest inland point as well as 20 kilometres overlooking Lake Dunstan and what has featured as the driest part of the country, Northburn Station, situated six kilometres north of Cromwell and 73 kilometres east of Queenstown, comprises a mix of lease and freehold totalling 13,177 hectares. Northburn freeholds some 8200 hectares, and encompasses two other adjacent extensive properties: Waenga, under private lease, and a mix of freehold and pastoral lease making up Leaning Rock Station.

Northburn has been held since the early 1990s by Tom and Jan Pinckney. In their 30-year tenure, while maintaining its staple wool and production the Pinckneys have successfully pursued several opportunities to diversify land use, realising some of Northburn’s immense untapped potential, natural attributes and scenic grandeur.


“When the Lake Dunstan dam was planned and under construction, temperature data was recorded to identify where various crops could grow. Northburn suited high quality and regularly ripening pinot noir grapes. In the 1990s interests wanting to source grapes from the Northburn area approached us, though we decided to pursue that endeavour ourselves and established Northburn Wine Company, planting 23 hectares of predominantly pinot noir. We sold the vineyard, award-winning restaurant and cellar door to Cloudy Bay, owned by the French Company LVMH, in 2016. We have subsequently identified, subdivided and sold other blocks for viticulture development, alongside lifestyle subdivisions. Given the proven quality of the wines produced from vineyards that were part of the Station and are now proud to call themselves part of the Northburn sub-region of Central Otago wine production, there is significant potential for further viticulture and horticulture development.

“Now well-established as a local iconic annual event, the Northburn 100 is a 100-mile ultra-marathon race ‘where suffering is the prize and everyone’s a winner.’ First run in 2011, the race now brings hundreds of people onto the station every year in March.

“A resource consent has also been obtained to develop a canyon swing on Northburn Station, which includes a chair lift to a launch platform, and will be the Southern Hemisphere’s highest canyon swing, spanning the valley above John Bull Creek, offering views west and north across Lake Dunstan to the Pisa Mountains,” says Tom.

Northburn Station Leaning Rock Terrace (1).jpg

Northburn Station’s farming philosophy responds to the area’s dry conditions.

“A property like this, where the rainfall can be as low as 250 millimetres per year, suits the Merino breed of sheep. Northburn wool goes into Icebreaker and other fine wool clothing brands. The key is not to overstock the country: to farm it sustainably. Per head production has improved since dropping overall stock units in the mid 2000s. The property is now leased to the Mcknight family from Poolburn.”

Northburn Station is offered for sale by Mike Direen and Trevor Norman of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Cromwell. 

Mike Direen says the majestic property offers unbounded scope.

“From irrigated terraces to native tussock hill and high country, this grand property presents an ever-changing canvas of natural beauty, endless recreational opportunities, multiple options for development, and rich and fascinating mining and pastoral history.

“Dating back to the 1850s, the property has consistently produced fine wool. In addition to supplying ewe wool to Icebreaker via New Zealand Merino, Northburn hogget wool goes to China and Italy to produce fine wool suits.

“Boasting awe-inspiring views, taking in the Remarkables and Mount Earnslaw to the west, Lake Hawea and Aoraki-Mount Cook to the north, the Kakanuis and Rock and Pillar ranges to the east, and Blue and Garvie Mountains to the south, this extraordinary property presents an unparalleled opportunity for a wonderful lifestyle in one of New Zealand’s most coveted landscapes, offering exceptional beauty, seclusion, and development potential,” says Mike.

Northburn Station Snow (1).jpg

Northburn Station has two significant QEII National Trust covenants, protected in perpetuity to maintain their ecological and historic values, comprising precious examples of regeneration in semi-arid grasslands, and protection and regeneration of rare Mountain Totara on the slopes above Cromwell.

New Zealand’s ‘unofficial most inland point’ is close to Northburn’s western boundary with Bendigo Station, measuring 119.44 kilometres from the Tasman Sea at Milford Sound and the same distance from the Pacific Ocean, near Hampden. In 2006 Northburn’s weather station was determined by NIWA as the country’s driest.

Three miners’ huts remain on the property, also a boundary rider’s hut dating back to the years when Northburn Station was the southern-most pastoral run of the then 162,000 hectares of Morven Hills Station, which ran from Omarama to Clyde to Hawea. The property became an entity in its own right in 1882 when James Cowan bought the pastoral rights. The Middleton family purchased Northburn Station for £1000 in 1910, holding it until 1973, when the Lake family purchased it, selling to the Pinckneys in 1993.

For sale by deadline private treaty, offers for Northburn Station are sought by Wednesday 27 September 2023.

View the listing here.

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