Hawkes Bay station has botanic gardens

4:50 PM Friday March 23, 2018 True Commercial

The property, at 556 and 582 Old Coach Rd, Te Pohue, encompasses expansive lawns and hillsides of flowering trees. Photo / Supplied

Trelinnoe Station in Te Pohue, Hawke’s Bay – a 1131ha mixed sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm with one of the largest privately-owned botanical gardens in the Southern Hemisphere – is on the market for the first time in two generations.

Colliers International rural and agribusiness brokers Hadley Brown and Mike Heard are marketing the property, at 556 and 582 Old Coach Rd, for sale by tender closing at 2pm on Thursday, May 3.

The Trelinnoe Park homestead, gardens and adjoining cafe are on a separate 13ha title which allows options for discerning purchasers. It is less than 30 minutes’ drive from Art Deco Napier and the food and wine bowl of Hawke’s Bay – opening multiple opportunities for the next owner to explore such as a tourism business, function centre, luxury retreat, or a beautiful private property.

Brown says that when the Wills family purchased the land in 1956, there was no pasture, stock or buildings, and certainly not a world-class botanical garden – just a derelict plot of scrubland.

“Fast-forward to today and, through the hard work and dedication of the Wills family, Trelinnoe Station is now a multi award-winning farm, renowned for its forward-thinking environmental and sustainable approach to farming practises,” says Brown.

“The property is also home to Trelinnoe Park, which offers 13ha of landscaped woodlands, wide sweeping lawns, clipped hedges, hillsides of flowering trees and spectacular vistas to the station’s dramatic landscape.

“The magnificent gardens, which feature one of the world’s largest magnolia collections and an architecturally designed 60-seat cafe, have attracted more than 140,000 visitors.

“It is evident Trelinnoe is a labour of love, built from scratch and combined with a passion for the environment and dendrology which has been passed down through the generations and into the hands of Bruce Wills and his brother Scott. The brothers have been in proud stewardship of the land and now present it as the high-quality property that it is today,” says Brown.

Wills, former head of Federated Farmers, says it was his parents’ immense interest in plants and their vision for the gardens that led to Trelinnoe Park being recognised on the world stage by the International Dendrology Society and by garden enthusiasts globally. It is one of only a few Gardens of National Significance in New Zealand.

“My father and his brother spent decades on bulldozers clearing former scrubland, with the first ornamental tree planted in 1960 in a clearing,” Wills says.

“That same site today contains tens of thousands of plants sourced from around the world.

“My parents travelled the world to gain inspiration and ideas to bring back and recreate at Trelinnoe Park. It was their absolute passion.”

Wills says his parents — John and Fiona — were a very close couple, always up at the crack of dawn and not stopping for dinner until it was dark.

“They didn’t want to waste a minute of daylight they could have been spending in the garden,” he remembers.

The couple’s shared love for the land lasted right up until the very end when his father passed away in November 2014 and tragically, his mother also passed away a few weeks later in December 2014.

While his parents’ passion and life work in their later years lay with the gardens, brothers Bruce and Scott have spent the past 35 years building on their foundations to develop and grow Trelinnoe Station to become an environmentally sensitive and highly productive farm.

After a successful professional career, Wills reminisces on his return to the family farm when he picked up the baton to continue the hard yards of ongoing development.

This included building an additional 50km of fencing, constructing 65 new dams, digging 12km of new farm tracks, planting thousands of additional trees and fencing off and preserving in perpetuity with QEII covenants 161ha of regenerating bush comprising the main farm gorges.

These days, an increasing amount of his time is spent off farm where he uses his knowledge and experience in a number of advisory and governance roles for various boards relating to the primary industry, environment and science.

“The decision to sell the farm has not been an easy one but with more of my time being spent off the farm, we feel it is time to hand the baton on,” Wills says.

“There have been generations of labour and love invested in Trelinnoe and we look forward to the potential purchasers treating it with the same amount of care and respect as we have. I believe we have left the new owners the best possible platform to work with and we look forward to seeing a new generation stamp their mark onto Trelinnoe.”