A new book recording the history of a North Canterbury station is to be launched next week.

Greta Peaks: The Waikari, Scargill, Greta and Motunau Valleys 1863-1963, by North Canterbury historian Aubrey Cropp, will be launched in the Amberley Library history room on Tuesday, February 5, at 10am.

Greta Peaks Station was bounded between the Hurunui and Greta Rivers and was originally part of the large Stoneyhurst Run.

Originally known as the Waikari block, it was sold to John and Michael Studholme and Thomas Sanderson in 1863 and comprised 24,500 acres (9915ha) of leasehold land and 80 acres (32ha) of freehold land.

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Writing the history of Greta Peaks station has been a labour of love for Aubrey Cropp. Photo / David Hill
Writing the history of Greta Peaks station has been a labour of love for Aubrey Cropp. Photo / David Hill

The book begins by briefly outlining the Canterbury sheep runs north of the Waipara River, before picking up the story of the Greta Peaks Station when it was purchased in 1863, detailing its further sub-division in 1891 and 1892, stories of early Motunau Valley settlers, the establishment of schools in Greta Valley and Scargill and the township at Scargill.

The book also traces the development of roads, the railway, the building of churches, sports facilities, community halls and the development of the communities in the area.

Cropp said Greta Peaks in the 1860s ''was an isolated, lonely place to live'' with no near neighbours.

Farm managers at the time faced a constant battle with challenges like ''the dreaded scab'' in their sheep flocks.

''It only took one scab infected sheep to infect a whole flock,'' Cropp said.

Cropp said he carried out his research on and off over about five or six years and has previously published five books relating to the history of the northeastern part of the Hurunui district, as well as a history of the Kohatahi and Kowhiterangi valleys on the West Coast where he spent his childhood.

He has lived in North Canterbury since 1955, farming in the Blythe Valley with his wife Lorelei.

When the couple retired from farming in 1989 they moved to Cheviot and became members of the Cheviot Early Records Society.