The March Issue

Omarama tourism complex Ladybird Hill for sale

Ladybird Hill, which features a vineyard, salmon fishing, restaurant and bar, two houses and a heliport on 26ha with water rights, was put on the market last month for $3.9 million. It has been owned by Rodger and Donna Smaill since 2010. Tourism Properties Ltd which is marketing the property states the 3.5ha vineyard, established in 1988 is "New Zealand’s highest" vineyard, at 440m above sea level, and "consists of approximately 5265 grape vines, producing around 2700 bottles of Pinot Noir, 1890 bottles of Pinot Gris and 395 bottles of Pinot Blanc". It also says there is potential for a camper van park, motel or hotel resort complex to be built on the additional land title of 7,008m2 at the front of the property, subject to Waitaki District Council final planning approval of the concept plans.

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David and Karen Ellis

David and Karen Ellis want to personally thank each and every one – not only those who tackled the blaze at Tara Hills last month, but also all those who supported the fire fighters on site. As well as both FENZ Omarama brigades, rural fire crews from throughout the district - Kurow, Otematata, Twizel and Waitaki – were called to fight the fire which began in hay bales. Excavators and two helicopters with monsoon buckets were also brought in to help. As well, community volunteers supplied crews with food and drink throughout. “It’s hard for us to express our thanks to each of those people personally. Many are not known to us," Dave says. The couple singled out Omarama chief fire officer Terry Walsh and Mike Harrison, deputy principal rural fire officer for Waitaki, for special praise for their leadership throughout the event. Dave says he was especially appreciative the fire fighters were willing and able to just drop what they were doing at work and “go and do this”. The Ellis family has made a donation to FENZ Omarama and asked chief fire officer Terry Walsh to distribute it as he sees fit. Dave urges any farmer who can help to seriously consider becoming a fire brigade volunteer. The fire which involved about 1,000 hay bales and spread to a nearby silage pit was likely caused by spontaneous combustion, he says. The total loss to the farm was about $140,000. He was confident every precaution was taken by the “experienced baler” to ensure the winter feed which was all grown on the property was completely dry. “It’s just one of things that happens in farming. Everyday can be a challenge. “Awe don’t make it to burn it.” Farm manager James Hurst, who is a highly-regarded employee, had been the butt of a few good-natured jokes and been given a “bit of a hard time” since, he says, laughing. Quite coincidentally, the farm manager's position at Tara Hills station has just been advertised because James would be moving to The Glens - another unit within the Ellis-lea group - to gain dairy experience, he says.