‘Most admired’ Moa Flat farm offered for the first time since 1955
March 2024

‘Most admired’ Moa Flat farm offered for the first time since 1955

One of the most admired farms in West Otago is for sale for the first time in 69 years.

Situated 36 kilometres north of Tapanui, 39 kilometres south west of Roxburgh and carrying approximately 10,500 stock units, Elgin is offered to the market by Brent Irving of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Otago, on behalf of Craig Robinson, whose grandfather Tom originally purchased what is now an 1181 hectare property in 1955.

Elgin was initially part of Moa Flat Downs, a huge 200,000 hectare station, 30,000 hectares of which was freehold and much more extensively farmed than the land is now. Subdivision of Moa Flat Downs in the 19th century included the creation of Wilden Station, which was subdivided again and balloted in 1930, when the land that became Elgin was the most sought after of the blocks offered, attracting 48 applicants. 

 PE Aut 24 - Blog Moa Flat - gate

Current owner Craig Robinson’s grandfather Tom came into the picture a few years later.

“After struggling immediately after the Second World War, when he entered farm ownership at Mokoreta following demobilisation from the navy, like most others farming at the time, Tom and his wife Mary, my grandmother, prospered when wool prices escalated in the early 1950s, coincidental with the Korean War,” says Craig. 

Having moved north to purchase Elgin in 1955, Tom embarked on a programme of fencing, shelter planting and ploughing, as well as aerial dressing, turning what had been tussock country into more productive land. He also built a reputation for owning and training race horses, based on the farm.

PE Aut 24 - Blog Moa Flat - horse

On Tom’s retirement in 1976, his son Neil and daughter-in-law Lyn, Craig’s parents, took over Elgin. During the 1980s and 90s they continued ploughing and subdividing the massive blocks of tussock, bringing another 400 hectares into pasture.

“Matagouri was taking over the tussock and the best way to deal with that was to plough it and subdivide. Development loans were available at the time. Dad used a Caterpillar D2 bulldozer to clear the matagouri, and a neighbour with a contracting business came in to giant disk the land. Eventually Dad bought his own 150 horsepower Deutz tractor, and his own set of giant disks.

“Pasture development enabled the farm to shift the cattle to sheep ratio more in favour of sheep. When Neil and Lyn took over from Tom and Mary in 1976 we had 400 cows, 2400 ewes and 500 hoggets. By the time I took over the numbers were 200 cows, 5000 ewes and 1300 hoggets,” says Craig. 

Meanwhile, in line with the Robinson’s on-farm development, Moa Flat Water Scheme began operating in 1982. Those improvements resulted in higher stocking levels, enhanced production and a reduced risk of winter stock losses, setting the farm up as the productive showpiece it is today.

PE Aut 24 - Blog Moa Flat - landscape PE Aut 24 - Blog Moa Flat - sheep

During that era Elgin served to establish the current Robinson generation, Craig and his two younger brothers: middle son Stephen went to Lower Hutt, initially as a bank manager for National Bank and ANZ, before purchasing Upper Hutt MTF Finance; while youngest Andrew became a vet, starting in Clutha, currently practicing in Methven.

Though Neil and Lyn moved to Wanaka in 2001, they have continued active involvement on the farm since Craig took over.

Craig purchased a further 112 hectares, known as Barney’s Block, the home block of the neighbouring Gem Lake Run, in 2014.

With the next generation, Craig’s son Liam and daughter Zara, not inclined to go farming, Craig and partner Lyndal Simpson decided to sell, bringing in Brent.

“Brent grew up on a neighbouring farm, so has known Elgin most of his life, including babysitting me when we were young, and serving as the wool rep for the farm a few years later, so it’s a natural association,” says Craig.

Brent says the farm is a standout for its production, presentation and scale.

“Elgin has been expertly farmed through three generations by a family that sets the highest standards, sparing no expense on infrastructure, and who are now offering their productive, well balanced and immaculately presented property to the market.

“With a full range of improvements, including a substantial centrally heated five bedroom brick home on an elevated site in a mature garden, and two three bedroom houses, Elgin consistently runs 6000 crossbred ewes, 1700 hogget’s, 220 Angus cows including in calf R2 heifers plus replacements, wintering 320 yearling cattle and trading store lambs some years. 

“In a locality widely considered one of the best and most reliable in Otago, Elgin has been astutely developed and expanded. Seldom is such a productive, honest, and genuine property, with such scale, offered to the market,” he says.

PE Aut 24 - Blog Moa Flat - couple

Elgin ranges from flat to gentle rolling paddocks, with approximately 952 hectares cultivatable, records between 950 to 1050 millimetres of rainfall per annum, sits 450 metres above sea level, and is supplied via four main intakes by the West Otago Water Scheme.

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