The Bell family have owned Criffel Station 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.