Bayleys news & articles

Pioneer settler’s farm goes on the market for the first time in 151 years

Tags: Canterbury Rural

One of the longest continually-owned farms in New Zealand – maintained by descendants of the same family for 151 years – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 2616 hectare Mount Cook Station bordering Lake Pukaki in South Canterbury has been owned by the Burnett family since 1864. It was first settled by Scottish migrants Andrew and Catherine Burnett.

One of their children, Thomas Burnett, took over the property and worked on the land before becoming a National MP in Government and representing the Temuka electorate until his death in 1941. He was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal for services to the community.

 Thomas Burnett’s son, Donald Mt Cook Burnett, took over the reins at the rugged sheep station – a role he held for the ensuing 69 years before passing away in 2010 at the age of 95. Mr Burnett was still actively working on the property right up until he died of an injury caused by slipping on ice while out in the paddocks.

Donald Burnett’s life’s devotion was to the Mount Cook Station. He never married nor had any children. The family estate which has operated Mount Cook Station over the ensuing years has now placed the illustrious high country property on the market for sale.

Mount Cook Station is being marketed by Bayleys Canterbury salespeople Nick Young and Paul Brown through a tender process closing on February 16.

Mr Young said the high country station could be bought as one entire unit, or in various portions – broken down into the 1312 hectare Mount Cook Station, the 1366 hectare Cox’s Down’s block, or the 36 hectare House block.

Infrastructure on the property includes the main six-bedroom homestead, a farm manager’s three bedroom home, two sleep outs, a three-bedroom shearers’ quarters, a barn and hayshed, indoor stock shed, woolshed, tractor shed, and two-bay garage.

“The Burnett name is intrinsically linked with the Mackenzie Basin – from being one of the original pioneering families in the region, to being the area’s MP,” Mr Young said.

“Donald Burnett also built one of the first privately-owned and operated hydro electricity plants in New Zealand in 1953, and it’s still operational today.

“He was also part of a very small group of three Mackenzie Basin farmers who were instrumental in immortalising the world-famous Mackenzie’s sheepdog statue at Lake Tekapo in 1968 – a landmark that is now one of the most photographed locations in New Zealand.

Mount Cook Homestead



 “And in 2000, Donald Burnett was named as the world's leading merino woolgrower with an award from a leading Italian industrialist. Donald was presented with the inaugural World Challenge Trophy by Dr Pier Luigi Loro Piana, whose Italian textile company paid $120,000 for a 100 kilogram bale of 13.1 micron diameter merino fleece. The wool set a world record for the fineness of wool in a full bale.”

View from Mount Cook Station


In recent years, Mount Cook Station has been stocking some 1535 Saxon merino ewes, hoggets and rams. The property has also been summer grazed by beef cows.  

Deer fencing and conventional post and wire fencing stretches for some 68 kilometres across the property.

Mr Brown said the opening of the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail, A2O, in 2013 had brought about a new revenue stream… cycle tourism, in addition to the station’s traditional wool production.

 “The shearer’s quarters and various sleep outs on the property are already kitted out to a rustic degree of guest comfort. With minimal investment, they could be upgraded to service the accommodation needs of Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail riders seeking a real high country station farm-stay experience,” Mr Brown said.

 “Food and beverage options could range from self-catering through to ‘home-cooked’ meals.

 “Mount Cook Station is strategically located close to the start of the A2O trail alongside Lake Pukaki. Because of its relative remoteness, and the newness of the A2O trail, accommodation options in the immediate area are extremely limited at present – representing an outstanding first-mover operating opportunity.

 “With peak usage periods of the A2O trail over the summer months, this dovetails perfectly behind occupancy of Mount Cook Station’s accommodation by the shearing gangs in early summer.”

 Mr Brown said there was also the opportunity to develop additional on-site eco’ tourism activities such as deer, tahr and chamois hunting, fishing, and tramping. Terrain on the blocks varies from flat on the lowlands, to steep hill country – with the altitude varying from 540 – 1000 metres above sea level.

For further information on Mount Cook Station, or additional images of the property, contact Paul Brown on 027 432 6864 or Nick Young on 027 437 7820.

Related articles