Middlehurst Station, a family-owned and -operated farm covering 16,550ha in the Upper Awatere Valley in Marlborough, is one of NZ’s original high country runs – ideal country to raise merino.
In its latest claim to fame Middlehurst won gold at the 2023 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards for the station’s Deluxe Edition Premium Lamb Box.
The award recognises a commitment to producing the finest quality lamb and dedication to sustainable and ethical farming practices.
This is the second year running that Middlehurst Station has won gold.
Willie and Susan Macdonald bought Middlehurst from the Stevenson family in 1998 and moved there with their four children, Sophie, Henry, Lucy and Skye.
Extending to the top of the rugged inland Kaikoura Range, the station is classic high country ranging in altitude from 550m to 2500m and bounded by the Awatere, Tone and Winterton rivers.
The station’s merino wool is used for luxurious clothing brands and the meat delivered direct to the consumer’s door.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have again won gold at the 2023 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards,” Sophie Macdonald said.
“Our parents, Susan and Willie, have worked relentlessly to get the farm and merinos to this level of quality.
“Lucy and I started supplying lamb direct to consumers in 2020 and it’s such an honour to all of us to have our efforts recognised in this way.
“Our parents couldn’t be prouder.”
The Middlehurst Station Deluxe Edition Premium Lamb Box includes a range of premium cuts of lamb and can be bought online.
“We are excited to see our hard work and dedication to producing the finest quality lamb recognised with this award,” Sophie said.
“We are passionate about what we do and we hope that our story inspires people to support a sustainable and ethical brand like ours.”
In addition to winning gold at the awards, Sophie and Lucy have been invited to represent NZ at the Rabobank Farm to Fork Summit in Sydney this month.
“We are incredibly proud to represent our family and our country at the Rabobank Farm2Fork Summit,” Lucy Macdonald said.
“It is an exciting opportunity to share our passion for sustainable and ethical farming practices and to learn from other farmers from around the world.”
Middlehurst sheep live in large blocks that cover a wide variety of terrain, steep hills, rolling hills, valleys, rivers and creeks. With this comes a variety of mountain herbs and grasses, creating the flavour and fine texture merino is known for.
“We want to make sure high country traditions are maintained and passed on and to have fun while we’re doing it,” the family said.
“We’re up for a challenge and love the diversity of what’s possible here.
“Building our merino stud has been especially rewarding and we’re proud of the work we’ve done to transform the genetics of our flock to create a distinctive type ideally suited to NZ environments and markets.”
No two seasons are the same at Middlehurst, “so we need to farm alongside the seasons and work together with the environment to ensure that the land is preserved and nurtured for future generations to come”.
It was a dream of Susan and Willie’s to have their product available direct from the station to the plate.
“What an incredible journey it has been from concept to our first delivery. Dreams do come true!
“We want to ensure that Merino meat is accessible to the people of NZ, we want you to know where the food you are eating has come from, we want you to know that is has been farmed with the animals welfare and the environment at the centre focus.
“We are so very passionate about the product we have available, how it was raised, where it was raised and why it was raised, we want you to taste the difference and come along on the journey with us as we take care of our planet for future generations.”
All of the merino lambs and hoggets are finished at the station’s Cheviot farm block and from there the family works with Harris Farms to process the merino products.