Lake Heron Station
Canterbury and the West Coast, New Zealand
Lake Heron Station is a high country working farm located in a remote spot in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island. Stay in the cosy farm cottage, get a true sense of Kiwi farm life, exploring the 20,000 hectares by 4x4, hiking and kayaking.
At a Glance
An authentic working farm where you can experience real New Zealand high country life first-hand
The station spans a vast 20,000 hectares of breathtaking landscapes including mountains, a glacial valley and Lake Heron
An outdoors adventurer’s dream, with endless hiking possibilities, fly-fishing, kayaking and heli-skiing
Ideal for families of up to six, or two couples traveling together
A true off-the-beaten track experience in a truly beautiful corner of the Southern Alps
You’ll definitely want a 4WD vehicle for your stay here to allow you to explore the farm independently and get out hiking to the most rewarding spots.Scott Dunn team
An authentic working sheep and cattle farm in a glacial valley of the Southern Alps, Lake Heron Station offers a true slice of rural Kiwi life. The 20,000 hectare station is owned by Philip and Anne Todhunter, whose family have owned the property for more than 100 years, and is home to ten thousand merino sheep and 700 angus cattle. The setting is truly breathtaking, in a glacial valley with steep sided, often snow-capped mountains everywhere you look, and the vibrant blue of Lake Heron nearby.
Accommodating just one family or group at a time, you have this vast, remote wilderness to yourselves to explore. In the summer months, take your car and drive along trails to take in the views, setting off on foot to hike for anywhere between an hour and a whole day, perhaps stopping at one of the original station huts for a picnic lunch. Fly-fishing for trout here is superb, either independently or with an expert guide. There’s a rowing boat and two sit-on kayaks for paddling on the lake, too. Wild swimming is encouraged, with plenty of spots to cool off in the river or lake. And of course you can get involved in seeing how the farm operates, from learning about the sheepdogs and how they round up the herds, to witnessing the sheep shearing , all dependent on the season of course. In the winter, the area is transformed by snow cover, and the main activity is heli-skiing on the farm’s mountains, with a specialist guide, and Philip as your helicopter captain.
The farm cottage is yours in its entirety, and has a spacious kitchen and lounge area at its heart. There are two queen bedrooms, cosy cottage in style, and a bunk room with two bunk beds, popular with youngsters. There is a shower room and separate toilet, and an outdoor bathtub where you can enjoy a bit of stargazing of an evening. Outside is a barbecue and a picnic table where you can relax and enjoy your meals outdoors when the weather’s warm.
Anne provides a two-course set menu dinner each evening, and provisions for a full cooked breakfast are delivered each morning for you to rustle up at your leisure. Whilst the accommodation itself is simple and no-frills, this is very much part of its charm. The whole emphasis here is on exploration, enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing life on a traditional high country farm.
The station is ideal for active, outdoorsy, independent travelers. Activities in the summer include fly-fishing, hiking, rowing on the lake, kayaking, swimming, and in the winter the focus is on heli-skiing with a guide. There are guided and unguided options for the hiking and fishing, and your stay is really flexible, but remember you’re staying on a working farm, rather than at a hotel or lodge where you’ll be hand-held more. The flexibility and independence is part of the beauty of your stay here though, and guests love it so much they often return for repeat visits!
Location & Directions
Canterbury and the West Coast, New Zealand
Lake Heron Station is located at the end of a gravel road, right in the heart of the Southern Alps. It is approximately a two and a half hour drive from Christchurch Airport, three hours’ drive from Lake Tekapo, and three and a half hours’ drive from Arthur’s Pass.
When to go
The climate in New Zealand is incredibly pleasant, with warm and balmy summers and cold crisp winter months with wonderful clear, blue skies. The warmer high-season months of November to April are perfect for outdoor exploration. The colder months of June to August are the best time to ski.
Both North and South Islands are drier on the east coast, rather than on the west, where mountain ranges act as a trap for the moisture-rich winds from the Tasman Sea. It is also worth remembering that it is usually a few degrees cooler on the South Island than the North Island and as New Zealand has a maritime climate, the weather can change rapidly.