The Mt Nicholas Farm Experience: Touring a Real New Zealand Wool Farm
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If you are traveling in New Zealand, going on a New Zealand farm tour should be on your list of things to experience! This blog is all about our tour on the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience from Queenstown along with important information you may need to know!
If you drive anywhere outside of a city in New Zealand one thing will become apparent very quickly – farming is everywhere! Many Kiwi’s own farms and farming is a very prevalent career choice here in New Zealand.
So, if you want to get to know the culture of New Zealand then going on a New Zealand farm tour is something you must do!
The other day we decided to go on a farm tour right from Queenstown! Our farm of choice was the Mt Nicholas Station as it is a Merino wool farm near Queenstown, famous for having amazing views and being extremely picturesque.
Although a New Zealand farm tour wasn’t originally on our list of things to do while in New Zealand, the Mt Nicolas farm tour (formally called the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience) came highly recommended so we decided to check it out for ourselves.
This blog is all about our experience on the Mt Nicolas farm, and what the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience from Queenstown is all about.
*Spoiler alert: we now think that a New Zealand farm tour should be on everyone’s New Zealand south island travel itinerary!
Where is Mt Nicholas Farm?
The Mt Nicolas Farm is located near Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. From Queenstown, the only way to get to the farm (aside from almost driving all the way to Milford Sound) is by boat, specifically the Spirit of Queenstown catamaran operated by Southern Discoveries.
The Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise is included in all of the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience tours and is a very beautiful way to start your farm tour.
So for those joining the Mt Nicolas Farm Experience, you simply need to meet at the Queenstown pier where the catamaran to the farm leaves from. You’ll enjoy a scenic cruise on the way to and from Mt Nicholas Farm!
If you want, you can book the scenic cruise on its own without the Mt Nicholas Farm experience. This is a great tour that’s both short (only a couple of hours) and affordable!
What is the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience exactly?
The Mt Nicholas Farm Experience is a tour of a real working farm where you’ll learn about the history of farming, meet the animals, and take a tour of the property.
These tours are suited to people of all ages and kids especially love interacting with the animals.
On the tour, you’ll also get some farming demonstrations such as herding and also get to feed some of the sheep on the property.
About Mt Nicholas High Country Farm
Mt Nicholas Farm is strictly a Merino wool farm which means they have mostly Merino sheep – and lots of them! Mt Nicholas Farm is an authentic and real operating farm that is family owned and operated to this day.
In fact, the majority of the wool they produce actually goes to the popular brand “Ice Breaker” to make Merino wool clothing.
If you visit at certain times of year you can find the sheds filled with sheep waiting for a haircut before spending months roaming free on the mountains on the farm. This is a difficult job in which shearers are only paid around $4 NZD per sheep they shear (you’ll learn all about this on the tour!)
Mt Nicholas Farm also herds their sheep using horses. This is due to the mountain landscape the sheep roam and the difficult task of rounding them up.
Mt Nicholas Farm Experience – Our Tour and What to Expect
The Mt Nicholas Farm Experience is much more than just a farm tour and lasts for almost half a day. Here’s our own personal experience and what you can expect if you choose to do the tour.
Getting to Mt Nicholas Farm (via one very scenic cruise)
The first part of the tour involves a very scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu. In fact, just doing the scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu is a must-do in Queenstown!
We jumped on the cruise at 11:00 am to make our way to Mt Nicholas Farm. This boat is also a common scenic cruise option for people who just want to take in some incredible views from out on Lake Wakatipu.
Not everyone who boarded the boat was going to Mt Nicholas, some were along just for the ride.
The boat makes its way to Mt Nicholas in about an hour. Keep in mind, the boat does a detour to some beautiful viewpoints along the way.
With a hot chocolate in hand, Dan and I enjoyed the views of the surrounding mountains while listening to the captain’s commentary.
Arriving at Mt Nicholas Farm
Jumping off the cruise we were greeted by our tour guide. She introduced herself and before we knew it we were off walking out onto the fields passing pigs, dogs, and chickens.
The first animal we were properly introduced to was the herding dog. She was energetic and couldn’t wait to greet each one of us visitors before she was put to work. We walked up to one of the gates to the fields where all of the sheep were.
The dog was released into the fields and within only minutes she had the whole group of sheep heading over to us!
Getting to know the sheep
Once the sheep arrived, a few of them were fed by the children in our group. They were given a little bit of feed and the sheep ate right out of their hands! One sheep, in particular, named Lucky really likes hanging out with the farm visitors.
As we continued on to another area of the farm, Lucky actually walked with our group as if she was also on the tour! It was very cute!
We were then led to another fenced area where all of us were given the opportunity to feed the sheep and take selfies with them. I was surprised at how friendly they were and unafraid of humans. Although, I’m sure the fact that they knew we had food played a factor in this as well.
Learning about the wool and shearing
After feeding the sheep we were taken to the shearing shed where we learned about the process of actually getting the wool. We learned a little bit about the wool and how it is divided up by the quality.
We also learned that the sheep come down to the shed twice a year, once for a little trim and once for the full shave. Besides these “haircuts” the sheep roam pretty much freely on the property. From what I could tell, the sheep seemed like they had a pretty good life!
Beautiful views and lunch
After learning all about the animals and the wool they produce, we were then escorted onto a 4wd bus to explore the farm further. We drove up the hills and through valleys to take in some beautiful sights.
The driver stopped frequently to let us out to explore and take pictures. The area of Mt Nicholas Farm is absolutely stunning! To us, joining the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience was worth the views alone!
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were given a picnic lunch with fresh bread and local meats and cheeses before getting picked up by the boat for our scenic lift back to Queenstown.
About the Mt Nicholas Farm Tour and Scenic Cruise
Expect to pay about $100 NZD (adults) and $69 NZD (kids) for the cruise, farm tour, and lunch. You can book your Mt Nicholas Farm Tour in advance.
Our tour started at 11 am and we were back in Queenstown around 2:30 pm. There are various departures times throughout the day and they run this trip 7 days a week all year round!
If you are in Queenstown between September and November you could be lucky enough to check out the farm during the actual sheep shearing and watch the sheep getting their haircuts in action!
Our Overall Opinion
To be completely honest, before going on the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience we didn’t really know what to expect and we didn’t have the highest of expectations either.
The idea of visiting a farm worried me slightly as I love animals and the thought of seeing the life of an actual working farm animal worried me. But to my surprise, the animals had a great life and the tour was fun and interesting!
We both thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the scenic cruise was beautiful and relaxing, while we learned a lot on the farm tour and had lots of laughs watching the animals!
If you are in Queenstown, definitely make time to check out the Mt Nicholas farm, you won’t be disappointed! It’s definitely one of the best tours in Queenstown!
Before you go…
Thanks so much for taking the time to read our guide to the Mt Nicholas Farm Experience. Please if you have any questions about the tour or just about Queenstown or New Zealand in general, leave them below in the comments section!
And, if you found this blog helpful, be sure to check out all our Queenstown and NZ blogs on our dedicated Queenstown and New Zealand pages. There are lots of great guides to make planning your trip to NZ much easier!
March 12, 2020