Urquhart Family History

The Urquhart family came from the Lock Ness area in the Highlands of Scotland; they have always been farmers. The area around Lock Ness consists of hilly or marginal land, with sheep farming predominating. The ruin of Urquhart Castle, one of the most romantic and famous sites in Scotland, still stands on the edge of Lock Ness.

With long experience farming sheep, the Urquharts, like many immigrant families, saw New Zealand as offering new opportunities. The South Island High Country also has similarities to the geography of their homeland in Scotland and the Urquhart family has been farming in the High Country since coming to New Zealand.

Englishmen predominantly owned early stations in the High Country but more often than not it was a Scotsman who was put in place to manage the farm. As a consequence there was a strong Scottish influence in the early European settlement of the Mackenzie.

Scotsmen were perceived as being a hardy bunch able to cope with the rigors of high country weather; the pioneering makeshift nature of early farming life; and the hardships imposed by isolation.

David Urquhart was brother to Alex Urquhart from Erewhon. David and his wife, Mary, were at Mesopotamia Station for (?) years. They then bought Steamlands Station in 1924 and were there for over 30 years before selling and moving to Grays Hills Station, which they bought in 1948.

Duncan Urquhart, one of the David and Mary’s three sons, took over the running of Grays Hills.

The current homestead was built in 1912 out of West Coast rimu: 2 storeys, weatherboard with shutter-style windows, a High Country character home. In later years a verandah was added.


Stud Principals: Sherie & Mark Urquhart
Gray’s Hills Station, New Zealand

Established: 1962 from Flock 116 (est 1938)
Stud Classer: A D Paterson
Ewe Numbers: 550 MA ewes, 100 2ths
Sale Method: Private. End Feb/Mar


Area: 22,000 hectares 
Rainfall: 400mm<
Stock Numbers: 6,200 ewes, 4,500 MA wethers, 1,000 wether hoggets, 2,000 ewe hoggets, 300 Angus cows, 50 replacement heifers


Runs 5500 commercial ewes under dryland conditions. 1200 are mated to terminal sires (Suffolk & Border Leicester). 3000 replacement hoggets and 4500 MA wethers are run on areas less suitable for lambing. Lucerne hay and grain are fed for long cold winters.

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