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Berry opportunity blossoms in Waikato

Located only minutes from the western Hamilton boundary, the 4.5ha Ngahinapouri property is posed to deliver superior yields, quality, and return, thanks to the efforts and investment of its existing owners.

Bayleys Waikato rural salesperson Scott Macdonald in Hamilton has overseen several blueberry orchard sales in the region, and interest is strong in the nutritious, high-value berries.

He says the Ngahinapouri property on O’Regan Road is particularly notable for its growing, packing, and value-added retail capability.

“The investment has focused on both the plants themselves and the capital equipment for analysing, processing, and packing the orchard’s production, whether for local or export demand,” he says.

At a plant level, the orchard comprises 6,000 shrubs ranging in age from nine months to 45 years. This includes a significant proportion of recently planted new varieties that deliver high yields and quality, including Velluto, Sky Blue, Centra, and Sunset.

The varieties have enabled the orchard to capture the full potential of the Rukuhia peat soils it is based on, proven to be among the most ideal in the country for blueberry production.

“This represents a major renewal programme over the past four years to extend the season from before Christmas to well into autumn, and to lift the quality of the berries grown throughout the season,” says Macdonald.

The berries are covered as required during the ripening season, but the option to install full overhead covers is possible, given the orchard’s simple rectangular layout.

Over 200 Brigitta shrubs have also been committed to planting this autumn, utilising some previously undeveloped land.

The production for the past season comprised 3,000kg sold through the orchard’s shop door, with a further 13,300kg into the sound export trade.

Capital investment is seen in the orchard’s BBC Technologies “soft sorter” with a six-head clamshell tray filler. The soft sorter equipment incorporates the latest data technology and ensures a high standard of fruit sorting and packing to export-grade standards.

Harvest productivity has also been improved significantly with the inclusion of a Dataphyll logistics system which provides full traceability. Its logging capacity enables exact recording of picker productivity, variety type, and yield, providing invaluable end-of-season data.

Full orchard facilities include 200,000 litres of water storage used for irrigation purposes and supplied through a neighbouring bore, along with a 25,000-litre rainwater supply for the home.

All packing and retail chattels are included with the operation, with it set to go on a “walk out-walk in” basis.

The current owners are also prepared to help new operators transition into the business if required.

“Given the orchard’s location to town, the on-site retail business offers some great potential to grow further. Frozen/ fresh berries and ice-cream sales have been strong and could be taken even further from the facilities already in place,” says Macdonald.

The property also includes a quality homestead with full decking and good aspect to the orchard, providing four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two lounges.

New Zealand blueberries are increasingly being recognised for their exceptionally high level of nutrients and emerging research reveals they can help improve children’s memory and offer improved cognitive function in elderly people.

“The orchard ticks all the boxes in terms of its location in relation to Hamilton, the layout, scale, and quality of investment in plants that have yet to reach their full potential.

“Waikato has been proven to be the ideal place for blueberry production, and the Ngahinapouri orchard is a great opportunity to further develop a quality proposition,” says Macdonald.

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