Our wool

Mt Nicholas Station

Mt Nicholas is a traditionally run, family owned, high country station on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu, tucked in the mountains of the Southern Lakes region of New Zealand.

We farm 29,000 merino sheep specifically to produce fine wool and also 2,300 beef cattle.

The Station has been owned and run by the Butson family since 1976, the station was originally settled in 1860 and many of the traditional grazing methods from those early periods persist today.

The station encompasses over 36,000 hectares and runs from the lake edge to an altitude of over 2000 metres. Our summers can be hot and winters harsh and cold. 30,000 hectares of the property is still in its natural native vegetation with native forest, tussock lands and alpine fauna covering much of the station.

A comprehensive environmental management plan is active on the station, protecting and enhancing our native flora, fauna, rivers and wetlands, whilst allowing for the continued sustainable farming of the property.

Mt Nicholas Merino Wool

At Mt Nicholas we have 29,000 Merino Sheep, approximately half are male and half female, unlike most sheep in the world that are bred for meat production, Merino sheep are a specialist breed that are bred to produce beautiful soft wool, that is primarily used in clothing and high end textiles. Shearing is completed by a specialist crew that consists of six shearers who remove the wool from the sheep with machinery that is similar to a set of clippers in a men's hairdresser, eight wool handlers work on the floor of the shed, taking the shorn fleeces from the shearers and preparing them by separating them into their different component parts, for example shorter wool from the legs and head is separated from the main fleece wool. Each fleece is then delivered to the wool classer, who decides on its technical specifications and which contract it fits within. This is all done by eye at this stage. The wool is then compressed into 180 kilogram bales and is trucked to the wool store which is a three hour drive away. It is then electronically tested to make sure it matches the wool classers technical specifications. We can shear up to 1200 sheep a day and it takes almost a month to do all the shearing! The shearers stay on the station while we shear and our population more than doubles while they are here! We produce abut 125,000kg of raw fibre per year.

Unlike most sheep wool, Merino can be worn next to the skin and doesn't have any itch factor. It is biodegradable, it removes moisture from skin, has excellent thermal properties, doesn't smell bad when you sweat, and is fire retardant whist being soft and strong! This means that it is suitable for a wide range of uses including lingerie, fine suits, active outdoor ware, jackets, children's and baby clothes and even shoes and protective underlayers for firefighters.

Mt Nicholas sells most of its wool on contracts so we have set prices that we will receive but also strict specifications for quality that we must meet. Approximately a third of the wool from Mt Nicholas goes to Icebreaker, an iconic New Zealand active outdoor ware brand, and about two thirds to Reda, a premium mill in Italy. We also commission a small quantity of our wool to be processed here in New Zealand for manufacture into fine knitting yarns.

Our colours

Alpine blue
Beetham's beach
Turnbull Shale
Home paddock
McKellar flat
Natural white