Farming on the station

Mark Urquhart grew up on the station and has been working with Poll Merino’s and Angus cattle since he was a boy. His long experience of handling these animals has given him a deep understanding of their behavior and idiosyncrasies.

Grays Hills Station is half freehold and half pastoral lease, with extensive grazing. Soils are generally light and the area has a semi-arid climate with high evaporation; 400mm rain. Temperatures range from minus 20 in winter when it is normal to have snow, to 38 centigrade in summer. During winter supplementary feed is required for 100+ days.

It takes a certain kind of character to farm and live in the Mackenzie. Grays Hills station is still relatively isolated and the extreme weather continues to be a challenge to any farmer.


Seasonal Work


  • Hay making
  • Weaning lambs
  • Harvest


  • Calf weaning
  • Crutching
  • Pre sow cultivation of the land
  • Rams go out to the ewes


  • Stock feeding
  • Fencing
  • Scanning sheep for expected lambing


  • Shearing
  • Sowing crops/pastures
  • Lamb & calf marking

Grays Hills Station

  • The largest Poll Merino Stud in New Zealand
  • Unique fishing in Grays Hills Creek
  • 97 hectares of protected native swamp environment which is home to numerous water fowl, water plant life, frogs and insects
  • Original cob cottage built in circa 1860. Cob bricks, made of straw and dirt, make up the walls of this one-room cottage. It has a dirt floor and replacement roof of iron.
  • Two 150-year-old black poplars, which have been given heritage status and are the longest un-branched lengths of timber in South Canterbury. These trees were grown from cuttings taken from the first black poplars introduced to New Zealand, which are growing in the botanical gardens in Christchurch. In spring flowering, the black poplars produce an abundance of small white flowers, which make a deep snowy carpet across the lawns.
  • One of the oldest working caterpillar tractor’s (1926 model)
  • Annual Sheep Drive 20km to Tekapo Sale. Grays Hills Station and Streamlands Station are the last remaining High Country Stations that participate in this annual sheep drive (need brief note on how long this tradition been going)


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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