Farm for sale steeped in maritime history

2:42 PM Friday October 27, 2017 True Commercial

The Lighthouse Farms property is divided into legal entities of 145.2ha; 113.7ha and 95.6ha. Photo / Supplied

An historic dairy farm overlooking the ocean graveyard of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster is for sale.

Lighthouse Farms on the northern tip of the southern entrance to Auckland’s Manukau Harbour overlooks the harbour entrance where the HMS Orpheus ran aground in February 1863 — killing 189 of the officers, seamen and marines aboard.

The British navy warship and her crew of 259 were bringing naval military stores from Sydney to the port at Onehunga. Outdated harbour charts meant ship captain Commodore William Burnett failed to realise the Manukau Heads sandbar had shifted, and the Orpheus subsequently ran aground amidst large swells.

As she sank into the sandbar, sailors began climbing the rigging to avoid drowning. When the masts eventually collapsed, the crew were thrown into the tumultuous seas.

Some soldiers who could swim ended up on the beach underneath the cliffs of Lighthouse Farms — clambering up the sandy bluffs in search of rescuers and salvation.

Most, however, drowned. For the British, it was the costliest day of the New Zealand Wars. A memorial plaque commemorating the loss of lives on the Orpheus is located on the boundary-line fence of Lighthouse Farms.

The Manukau Heads lighthouse and coastguard signal station — built long after the Orpheus tragedy — are located across the road of the farm’s northern periphery.

Now the freehold rural-zoned Lighthouse Farms property is being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Pukekohe, with tenders closing on November 1. Salesperson Ben Jameson says the farm is being sold as a going concern, with the option to also purchase 131,000 Fonterra shares and both the dairy and beef herds.

Manukau farm Memorial.jpg

There is potential to utilise the stunning location overlooking the Manukau Harbor and its place in pioneering history. Photo / Supplied

Infrastructure

Jameson says the three blocks making up Lighthouse Farms are broken down into separate legal entities of 145.2ha; 113.7ha and 95.6ha — with multiple titles across the farm.

The farm at Manukau Heads Rd/Lighthouse Rd at the top of the Awhitu Peninsula now milks about 400 dairy cows forecast to produce 130,000kg of milk solids in the current season, as well as sustaining a herd of some 250 dairy replacement and beef grazing cattle. Farm infrastructure includes:

•             a 19-aside herring bone cow shed,

•             four dwellings – incorporating a main four-bedroom homestead, and three additional three-bedroom staff residences,

•             an eight-bay half-round hay shed,

•             two additional hay barns,

•             a feed silo and hardstand area,

•             a wool shed with covered yard,

•             an implement shed,

•             an 8000 litre per hour water bore and pumping system, and

•             an effluent storage and disposal system.

Tourism potential

Jameson says the farm consists of terrain ranging from grazing plateaus and sheltered valleys, through to rugged West Coast sand dunes overlooking the Tasman Sea.

“The Manukau Harbour coastguard signal station and lighthouse are adjacent to the property, adding plenty of activity and character to the rural lifestyle on Lighthouse Farms,” Jameson says.

“The sombre reminder of the Orpheus tragedy is regularly visited by tourists to the peninsula, adding to the property’s majestic appeal as a ‘trophy’ farm — sustaining not only an economic return, but also a stunning location just a 10 minute helicopter flight from downtown Auckland.”

Jameson says depending on the personnel management and operational structures employed on the farm, there is potential to utilise some existing dwellings for farm-stay accommodation — drawing on their stunning location overlooking the Manukau Harbor and Tasman Sea and its place in New Zealand’s pioneering history.

“There are extensive races across the property for efficient stock movement. In the height of the production season the farm employs up to five staff. Waiuku township is 35 minutes’ drive away.”

Jameson says Lighthouse Farms’ topsoil consists of red hill sandy free-draining loam with a volcanic overlay. The locality recorded an annual average rainfall of 1181mm.