The animals are part of the attraction for visitors to the Smiths’ farm and eco-home lodge at Orwell Creek, Ahaura, roughly halfway between Greymouth and Reefton. Robyn and Malcolm Smith have owned the property that is surrounded by DOC land since 2007 and in that time have risen to the challenge of living off the grid, farming cattle and protecting the land and its history, but not without the occasional issue.
Although there are now 45ha of grassy paddocks along the flats, they’re not finished with breaking in the 59ha property that was ‘pretty solid’ gorse and macrocarpa.
And “every now and again we get some idiots coming through at night,” says Malcolm, explaining that unauthorised four-wheel drivers don’t always respect the fact that this is private land. On the other hand, by arrangement, clubs and authorised tours can pass through the property to the surrounding DOC ecological zone and to visit Napoleon Hill, once the site of a thriving community.