A large Rangitikei farm with only two owners over its lengthy history has sold.
Ferndale Station, north of Hunterville on the Turakina Valley Road and comprising 1741 hectares, has sold for an undisclosed sum, although believed to be close to $9 million.
Offers were invited by May 31, and Bayleys Rangitikei agent Pete Stratton said the station was sold after receiving many expressions of interest from throughout both the North and South Islands.
He said four competitive offers were ultimately received. The successful offer was around 30 per cent above current Rateable Valuation, although Ferndale was initially offered as a package of more than 1800ha.
Co-agent, Bayleys Andrew Bonnor, said the successful purchasers were a local farming family with strong ties to the district. With the deal still at a sensitive stage, the new owners wish to remain anonymous.
The fact that only two families have ever farmed Ferndale Station is testament to the productivity and reliability of the hill country.
For much of the station's farming history, it was part of early settler Walter Fernie's landholdings that stretched from the northern Rangitikei through to Whanganui.
The Lilburn family took up the reins over 30 years ago, and has since invested significant capital to create the highly-productive property that it is today.
Bonnor said the Lilburns can be proud of how they have passed on the property.
"Aesthetically it's a stunning property with both the Turakina River and Mangamahu Streams running through, and overlooking the station is a stunning character homestead that has been well maintained over many years," Bonnor said.
"From all accounts people enjoy working and living on this farm."
According to Stratton, the combination of scale, location, fertility of soils, quality improvements and natural supply of water made the station a rare farming opportunity.
"Ferndale is dominated by Turakina silt loam soils which are one of the few hill soils described as fertile.
"The Lilburn family have put in tracks, subdivision and cleared it to become an attractive and well-maintained property that the successful purchaser can take over with confidence," Stratton said.
The station currently winters over 8000 ewes which are a composite of Romney and Kelso that are mated with Romney, Romney-Texel or Kelso Ranger black-face rams. Ewes average 135 per cent lambing success, while 1000 mated hoggets achieve 75 per cent.
Stratton said the Lilburn family, with a manager at the helm, has run a very simple system, with many male lambs sold on-farm in early January so they can concentrate on putting weight on ewes for tupping.
Yearling steers are purchased between August and April, wintered as rising two-year-olds while 18-month-old heifers are purchased in April/May, wintered, then run with the bull from the beginning of December and sold vetted in-calf during May.
"It's a very simple system that is designed for ease of management to give reliable performance from a low-cost system."
Ferndale stock has a reputation for quality, evidenced by the support for the store lamb sale held on the station in conjunction with neighbouring Drysdale Station. The sale is held in the station's large covered-yard complex.
"In the centre of the North Island you get very few stations that become available of this size and quality and that's testament to the productivity of this hill country. Properties here are tightly held."