Author(s): Matt Philp
The gripping story of an iconic New Zealand high country sheep station in the heart of the South Island's MacKenzie Country. There are two ways into the MacKenzie Country: via Fairlie and Burke's Pass or over the Lindis. Whichever way you drive, when you enter the MacKenzie you know you are somewhere very different and very special. It's a huge basin surrounded by sere hills, it's dry as a bone, and it feels somehow ancient. The sky is a wide blue dome. In spring lupins blaze in the roadside ditches. In winter those hills are dusted with snow. It feels as timeless and untouched as the Maniototo, and as empty. This is where James McKenzie filched his sheep from the squattocrats, stealing through the night with his clever dog. This is where the night sky is so dark that it's now protected under world heritage status. This is where battles have been fought over irrigation and water rights. This is where, on Glenmore Station, which runs up one side of Lake Tekapo all the way to the boundary with Mount Cook National Park, the Murrays have farmed for 100 years and four generations. Third-generation Glenmore runholders Jim and Anne Murray have recently retired from the station, and their son Will and his wife Emily now run the property. Jim's father was instrumental in building the Church of the Good Shepherd beside the lake at Tekapo. Jim inherited the station in the 1960s when he was 21 and his father died of sudden heart attack. Glenmore is renowned merino stud and it was the first station to supply merino wool to Icebreaker. Jim Murray sat on Icebreaker's board for some time and most of the Glenmore clip still goes there. Very interesting scientific work is also going on at Glenmore. Will and Ems, who have three young children, are a great example of a dynamic young high country farming couple in the modern era. The Murrays are an incredible clan: hardworking, determined, innovative, visionary and community-focussed. Theirs in an amazing station, set in tough country, and the story of Glenmore epitomises New Zealand's high country spirit.
Matt Philp began his feature writing career at the New Zealand Listener, and was a senior writer for Metro, The Press and North and South. Now a freelancer, he writes on architecture, lifestyle, business, heritage and travel for several New Zealand magazines. Travel writing has recently taken him into several of the national parks, adding to his experiences of tramping some of our Great Walks.