Mapua's animal attraction set to open

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 07:56 05/02/2014
farm park
COLIN SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

PARKLIFE: David and Vicky Pattinson with donkeys and boer goats on their Gardner Valley Rd property they have turned into a farm park.

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A farm park that has been $2 million in the making is to open next month.

David and Vicky Pattinson had hoped to open the attraction featuring rare breed animals to visitors more than a year ago.

Instead the 16.75ha property on Gardner Valley Rd off the main highway near Mapua will open on March 1.

Animal Farm Rare Breeds Farm Park has texas longhorn cows, highland cows, red deer, fallow deer, donkeys, llama, large black pigs, Captain Cooker pigs, kune kune pigs, Arapawa Island goats and sheep, Boer goats, Pitt Island sheep, Wiltshire sheep, karakul sheep, yaks, ostrich and emu as wells as rabbits and caged birds.

"Starting any new venture in this country is an insane process, I wonder how anything gets off the ground," said Mr Pattinson. "It's been a frustrating process.

"We have been determined and now there's light at the end of the tunnel."

The biggest hurdle was its size. "It's just a big project," said Mr Pattinson.

"I don't think people realise the scale of what we are trying to compared with Bencarri or Natureland, while they are fantastic sites, they are much smaller and with the increased scale comes bigger issues."

The Pattinsons had to overcome opposition to gain resource consents for the venture which is in rural zoning. Objectors raised issues including traffic, noise and effluent disposal effects and the impact on neighbours.

Commissioners granted the application following a hearing a year ago. The consents allow for a cafe and farm shop to be added later.

Asked what he would have done differently, Mr Pattinson said: "Almost everything."

Getting the infrastructure in place, including fencing, power, water supply and one kilometre of footpaths, had been a lot of work and they'd had some bad weather.

While the delays had meant they had missed out on the financial benefit of the peak summer visitor season, in the long term they would likely look back and see that as a good thing, he said.

It was better to have a softer opening rather than be inundated with visitors and not be able to offer them the experience they wanted to be able to. Inevitably there would be learning curves in operating the new venture and it would give them an opportunity to sort those, he said.

Buying the property and setting up the farm park cost more than $2 million.

"It's not about the money, we'd be better off just investing our money and sitting on it. We are passionate about this, we think Nelson needs something like this and it's an opportunity to promote rare breeds.

"It's about fun, education and conservation."

Visitors will be able to feed and pat the animals, and later in the year they hope to have preschool and school visits.

Entry will cost $25 for a family of four; or $10 an adult and $5 a child; and a season family pass $70.

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