The Farm

Historic Criffel Station combines sustainable deer farming with tourism ventures and offers Wanaka’s most desirable event venues. Operating under a One Health philosophy, we aim to provide a healthy and balanced ecosystem for our people, land and animals, and preserve our exceptional high country environment.

One Health

One Health describes the collaboration of varied disciplines working together to provide optimal health of water, environment, animals and people. For Criffel, that means farming animals in a sustainable way, while adding value to our agricultural products, and hosting people in a way that is in harmony with a pristine natural environment. We want people to come to Criffel to experience and enjoy panoramic views of the Upper Clutha, authentic country style and friendly hosting for an hour, a day or longer.

Farming Criffel

Deer farming and production of venison and velvet are the key farming operations and recent projects on the farm include water quality research, One Health reviews and seed production.

The Bell family have owned Criffel since the 1960s. The property was a sheep station from the 1850s and hosted an intriguing episode in Otago gold mining history in the later part of the nineteenth century.

The station was converted into one of New Zealand’s largest deer breeding and stud farms by Jerry and Mandy Bell in 1993. It comprises:

  • 2,000ha of rugged farmland with native bush, authentic farm buildings, stunning views of Lake Wanaka, natural water features and tracks, and a 1920s homestead
  • 350 ha of finishing pastures on the flats and terraces with 315 ha irrigated
  • 1650 ha of breeding hill blocks on the steeper tussock country

James Dale manages the day to day operations on the property with Don Patterson.

These days the farm runs predominantly Eastern European red deer divided across a commercial herd, elite herd, finishing stock and stags for velveting and mating.

The property runs as four farming operations – hill breeding, venison finishing, velveting and a stud operation. The stud operation utilises breeding values with a primary focus on venison growth to 12 months. DNA technology is used to produce top quality breeding hinds and stags. The genetics are passed directly to the commercial operation and other commercial buyers.

Taking Deer Farming into the twenty-first century

Criffel Station’s One Health philosophy — a healthy environment, healthy animals and healthy people — includes a focus on sustainability for future generations, allowing ongoing enhancement and enjoyment of the land.

Both Jerry and Mandy have and hold leadership roles in the deer industry; Jerry as a past Deer Industry NZ director and Mandy as chairman of the Passion 2 Profit programme that is tasked with transforming the NZ deer industry and delivering sustainable profitability. (For more information visit AgResourced and Deer Industry New Zealand.)

Tourism and events at Criffel

Tourism operations include: events in the 1940s woolshed and at the Stone Hut Terrace; Crossfire’s popular range of fun activities; farm stay accommodation and glamping opportunities, in our charming cottages and at glamp sites with unmatched views; or discovering Criffel with customised tours and experiences.

Contact us today to arrange to spend some time with us on a tour or enjoy a farm stay experience.

Criffel Station is close to Wanaka but offers authentic new Zealand rural experiences, not to mention, stunning views over the world-renowned beauty of Wanaka and surrounds:

Meeting the challenges of modern farming

Life at Criffel has changed significantly in the last 15 years and we are constantly looking to adapt our deer farming and business practices to meet the challenges of a changing world in a sustainable way.

Farming and our communities are facing a multitude of challenges — climate change, environmental and water quality and availability, consumer preferences and disruptive technologies are all on the table. The pace of change in technology with the production of alternative proteins is creating uncertainty of how the future looks for NZ’s primary sector and we are fortunate to be able to diversify the business and link this diversification closely to the property.