Bull finishing farm at Kawakawa

3:41 PM Tuesday May 8, 2018 Paul Charman

Farm accommodation includes three-bedroom homestead and manager’s dwellings, plus basic single men’s quarters. Photo / Supplied

A 400ha bull finishing farm on the western outskirts of Kawakawa has been placed on the market for sale.

Bayleys Whangārei  will auction the land holding at 1pm on May 11, a property rural specialists Alex Smits and Lin Norris are describing as one of the most substantial of its type in Northland. 

Smits says the freehold farm, comprising 24 individual titles in three blocks, has been owned by three generations of the Cookson family. 

“It is subdivided into 219 paddocks and stocks between 1100 and 1300 cattle over summer, easing back to between 750-880 animals over winter. Weaners are bought in and held for two winters before being sent to market.

“Topography-wise, there are 268ha of rolling to medium-contour grazing paddocks and 108ha of flat land — this allows for tractor-access to 95 percent of the property,” Smits adds.

“There are also 24ha of mature pruned pine trees ready for harvesting, and estimated to be worth in the region of $360,000.”

Originally a dairy farm, the Kawakawa property is now operated with two labour units — returning an average of $1225 per hectare over the past three years.

“When other farms are having to re-stock during dry summer conditions, this one is able to maintain and even increase stock numbers, as the flats continue to grow grass. This growth sustains between 200-450 large bales of baleage,” Smits points out.

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Having a well-maintained race network, the 400ha property is internally accessible by either quad-bike or tractor. Photo / Supplied

There are six feed pads on the flats and these are used for winter and flood feeding-out, with mobs of up to 40 bulls held on each pad.

“However, the property has been farmed conservatively over the past few years, and there is scope for any new owner wishing to achieve a higher level of stocking intensification through the greater paddock subdivision — with the use of sticks and wires.” 

Building Infrastructure includes a three-bedroom homestead, a three-bedroom manager’s dwelling, a basic two-bedroom single man’s quarters, an old cow shed, woolshed, four fertiliser bins, airstrip, rock quarry, two sets of yards sustained by loading races and multiple half-round and square hay barns and implement sheds. 

Soils are predominantly of Hukerenui silt loam, with Otaha clay and Whakapara sand on the flats. Pastures contain a blend of rye and clover bases, with kikuyu.

Norris says the property has a long history of fertiliser application — with various quantities of sulphur, selenium and lime being spread over the decades. It has twice been a finalist in the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Awards for farming excellence. 

He says farmland in Northland is cheaper than in most other parts of New Zealand, with the average winter temperature for the province ranging between 12-15C. 

“Both of these are reasons for attracting rural property buyers to Northland.”

Meanwhile, recreational options that would come with living in Ruapekapeka Rd are impressive.

The farm is just 15 minutes from boat-launching facilities in the Bay of Islands — handy to the Cape Brett fishing grounds where kingfish, marlin, grouper and snapper proliferate.

“Alternatively, with an extensive Kawakawa River boundary and pond system, the farm is well set up for hunting ducks, pheasants and also white baiting without leaving the property. 

“The property also borders the town of Kawakawa, which is renowned for the Hundertwasser toilets, and the steam train which runs through the middle of the town. Kawakawa is also on the Twin Coast Cycleway which links Opua with Horeke.”

Just down the road from the farm was the Ruapekapeka pa site which was a pivotal battlefield in the Maori Land Wars of the 1800s.

Norris says the main block fronts onto Ruapekapeka, Paihia and Fraser Rds, making stock management straightforward. 

“Above all, the property is irrigated through a mix of spring-drawn water and town supply — all stored in a range of header tanks before being gravity fed to paddocks. 

“Internally, this property is accessible by either quad-bike or tractor, as it has a well-maintained race network.”