Camden & Jordan Station
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
8000 merinos on 10.200 hectares (total on both farms)
For a merino farmer grass means everything. So when the sweet summer rain arrives in buckets, that is when you will hear third generation farmer Hugo Pitts say “we have experienced an unusually good summer”. He lives on Camden, the largest of the two farms he owns, together with his wife, vet-nurse Kelly, and their two daughters Georgia (6) and Isabella (4). “Usually we have a very dry environment, but we try not to control nature too much, we work with what we are given”, says Hugo who celebrates the rain without being tempted to overworking the land by adding more merinos even though the grass is plentiful. “We need to take care of our heritage”, he says.
The Pitts arrived in New Zealand when Hugos great-grandfather, the surgeon and doctor Arthur Pitts came over from England and built his own x-ray-machine. But it was his son, Gentry Pitts, Hugos grandfather, who started the family tradition of growing wool in 1939, when he was 27 years old. He bought a small place of his own because “he always dreamt about becoming a farmer, he had a great love for the outdoors”. So did Hugo. After finishing a farming degree at the University in 1999, Hugo decided to travel the world for two years, working in agriculture. He spent all his salary on bus tickets, food and a place to sleep. He drove trucks for wheat harvesting in the U.S. In England he built fences and worked on a turkey farm, and in Scotland he helped delivering lambs. He knows how to solve things. Just like when he decided to introduce a new work-member on his farm. “Some years ago it took us four people four days to walk all the way up to the mountain to bring down the rams”. The hills were too steep for both vehicles and horses. “So now we rent a helicopter”, and by that they have shaved off three days and half the workforce on the same task.
During the summer the family is visited by a steady stream of cyclist and backpackers who sleep in twelve beds in the sharing shed, except during the two weeks in August when the whole space is filled with dancing white wool. The tourists are looking for an once-in-a-lifetime experience in the magnificent untouched New Zealand nature. “Our backdrop is quite spectacular. The mountain range is very sharp and can reach up to 7000 feet. In the evening the setting sun will make the peaks orange and red, while the bottom and the narrow parts stay dark and mysterious”, says Hugo before he ads that “nature means everything for us”.