Set in the Southern Coromandel and minutes from the beautiful Karangahake Gorge you'll find Bullswool Farm Heritage Park. Whilst the Farm is not accessible from the Hauraki Rail Trail, it’s just a short 10 minute drive from Paeroa, or 20 minutes from Waihi.
Home to three generations of the Howse family, the farm has a diverse and interesting array of rare breed farm animals, several working farm museums, outdoor displays, and an award-winning Native Bird Reserve.
Designed and built by Tony Howse, the reserve covers seven acres. The reserve is fully fenced and made up of a mature native forest, two spring creeks, a handbuilt walking track, and extensive Kauri plantings.
With so much to see and do, the Farm offers an authentic taste of Kiwi farm life, and is one of New Zealand's most beloved and iconic rural experiences. Located at the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula, close to Hobbiton Movie Set and the Hauraki Rail Trail, the Farm is an easy day trip from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
The Park has been named as one of the AA's 101 Must Dos for Kiwis, voted one of The Coromandel's best visitor attractions, and a Pride of New Zealand Award winner for its conservation work.
We caught up with owner operator, Sue Howse to hear more about the farm and why it’s a Must Do when you ride the Hauraki Rail Trail.
The farm is generous. It is blessed with a high quality volcanic ash soil, which helps our animals thrive. We love the beauty of the farm, the long views down our valley, and the endless moods created by the ever-changing weather.
Karangahake means 'the meeting of the hunchbacks', referring to where the Coromandel Ranges end, and the Kaimais begin. The farm sits at the very centre of the “meeting place”, a location we feel very blessed to be in.
We have a large variety of friendly rare breed farm animals, that visitors can meet and interact with. Our award-winning Native Bird Reserve offers an opportunity to learn more about New Zealand native birds and trees. Our Sheep Shed, Milking Shed and stables have been converted into Museums, so visitors can learn about New Zealand’s early farming story. In addition to these, we have extensive play areas offering children plenty of hands-on fun.
Photo: Shearing Shed Museum
Photo: Milking Plant
The Native Bird Reserve is 5 acres of regenerating bush that we fenced off from stock about 10 years ago. Since it was fenced off we have started a programme of replanting, weeding and pest eradication. We have been rewarded with a significant increase in birds as a result of this work.
We need to keep and preserve our stories. It helps us understand the times we live in now, and how that has shaped our nation.
Photo: Kauri Museum
Animals live in the moment, and offer no judgement. If you feel safe to be around, that is enough for them. They offer peace and connection, something we often lack in our daily lives.
Photo: Getting up close with the animals
I think we offer nostalgia, plenty of space, and an experience that is completely unique in New Zealand.
Photo: Learning outside the classroom
There is an unformed paper road that joins the Hauraki Rail Trail and the farm, and we live in hope it might one day be operational! In the meantime, the farm offers an added extra to the Hauraki Rail Trail visitor experience, and an opportunity to be on our region’s beautiful farmland, rather than cycling past it.
Photo: Grazing miniature horses at the Farm
The Play Paddock is the work of Tony Howse. Aside from working on Bullswool Farm, Tony is a sculptor and makes sculptures out of the remnant heads and roots of Kauri that were felled in the 1800s. The Play Paddock is Tony’s creativity and practical skills put to use, to create multiple unique and highly interactive play structures for children, all using wood.
Photo: Bullswool Farm Play Park
Photo: Bullswool Farm Play Park
No, visitors can simply turn up on the day.
You can find more information to help plan your visit here.
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