A super-sized glasshouse has emerged in a Te Horo paddock, north of Wellington, to research and produce medicinal cannabis.
It's the key part of agricultural engineers Irene Lopez-Ubiria and Alvaro Vidiella-Salaberry's Phytotecnia Ltd business venture.
The couple, originally from Spain, have been in New Zealand for nine years working up north before looking for a place recently to start their new business in the ground-breaking industry.
The Te Horo site was perfect as the land was flat, it had a reliable water source, electricity connection, was near various main centres and research institutes, and the climate was good.
"It took us a long time to find it," Irene said.
"So when we saw this 5 hectare site we said 'this is the place'."
They've put their own money including funds from family and friends into the venture and have been granted a Callaghan Innovation R&D Loan which has backed up their project and given them extra impetus.
A research licence has been secured from the Ministry of Health to grow medicinal cannabis for research purposes.
And they're awaiting a licence to cultivate for commercial purposes which they expect to get next month.
The 360sqm glasshouse, featuring various rooms, is designed to comply with strict pharmaceutical regulations and ensure a high level of cleanliness and more.
It also features a lot of security measures including cameras and a high electric fence so nobody uninvited can get in.
"We're expecting our first crop in April/March," Irene said.
"We are very aware that this is a new industry and it's very difficult," Alvaro said.
"So we will have to trial different things, and do it properly, before we expand into a larger glasshouse."
Flowers from the grown cannabis will be sold in dry form or extracted components to medicinal cannabis manufacturers.
The couple are also in the process of obtaining certification so they can manufacture their own product.
The long-term goal was to be " a very profitable company and a reference in the cannabis industry", Irene said.
"With our science background, and rigorous production processes, you can compete very well with what other companies are doing overseas."
The couple have created a website which is www.phytotecnia.com and are starting a PledgeMe campaign on November 16.
"We could go without the crowdfunding but we would go slowly," said Alvaro, who emphasised there was still a lot to learn, that small steps would be taken, and there were risks.
"This is a long-term investment," Irene said.
"We think it's a very interesting project for people that are looking for a profit obviously but understand that it takes time and they have to be patient."