Mid Canterbury dairy farm sold for nearly $65m

Mid Canterbury is being labelled the dairy capital of New Zealand following the recent sale of a property for almost $65 million.

The 1284-hectare dairy farm known as Ealing Pastures, about 28km southwest of Ashburton, was sold at a no-reserve auction following a court direction.

Bidding opened at $48 million and rose in $1 million bids to $50 million. Then the rises dropped to $500,000 bids up to $59 million and dropped again to $250,000 bids. As the price climbed, the size of the increase in bids dropped until the final bid of $64,940,000 was $10,000 above the under bidder and clinched the purchase.

The property is in two dairy units of 820ha and includes a 430ha irrigated dairy run-off block. It has two rotary dairies, one a 80 bail and the other 70 bail.

It has 3200 cows and is expected to produce 1.3 million kg of milk solids this year.

The property was purchased in 2000 for $5 million in a three-way partnership. South Canterbury financier the late Allan Hubbard and his wife Jean owned 25%, Andrew and Rachel Morris another 25% and the remaining 50% was owned by Geoffrey Holman, of Pullington Investments, a Western Australia-based investment company.

The partnership was ended by Mr Hubbard's death in 2011. The High Court ordered the property to be sold by auction with no reserve. The buyer must also buy the livestock and plant at market value.

This ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal a year ago, when the property was deemed to be worth $60 million plus the livestock and plant.

Fonterra shares were not included in the sale and the vendor was not subject to any ongoing supply agreements.

Shares in an irrigation company were included in the sale, along with a share milking partnership agreement.

Mr Holman was the under-bidder.

Afterwards, he said he was not disappointed to miss out on the purchase. He plans to buy a yacht.

The property is thought to have been purchased by the Morris family and other New Zealand investors.

Chris Murdoch, from Property Brokers, said the sale signified the importance of the Ashburton district in the dairy industry.

- by Maureen Bishop