Dan Steele & Sandy Waters of Blue Duck Station


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2022 Finalists: Dan Steele & Sandy Waters of Blue Duck Station – Sheep, Beef, Tourism, Honey and Carbon Sequestration

A strong connection to nature and a desire to leave a positive legacy for their children are driving forces for the couple behind this vast Ruapehu property.

Blue Duck Station features a diverse farming operation that encompasses sheep, beef, tourism, honey and carbon sequestration. Dan Steele and Sandy Waters have been at the 1,400ha Blue Duck Station since 2005. They also now lease the neighbouring Retaruke Station from Dan’s parents, meaning their business operation spans just over 2,800ha.

The business is split fairly evenly between farming, tourism and honey – with each generating about one-third of Blue Duck Station’s income. The remaining 10% comes from the New Zealand Emission Trading Scheme.

Across the mainly steep land, they run just over 5,000 sheep and about 600 cattle. The environmentally conscious couple are interested in low-input, humane farming that fits the environment.

Dan and Sandy run a successful tourism business, offering guests unique experiences such as horse treks, guided hunting, bush safaris, and kayaking and jetboating down the Whanganui River. Guests can also stay overnight and enjoy fine dining at The Chef’s Table – a restaurant that dishes up produce mainly farmed, grown and foraged on the farm. Three luxury cabins have been crafted using timber from a former bridge on the station.

Dan and Sandy entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a way of networking with likeminded farmers, and to showcase some of the sustainability initiatives they have undertaken. Conserving water, protecting the land from predators, and planting native trees are just some of the steps they are taking as they move toward becoming self-sustainable while enhancing this unique landscape.

Alongside their wider community, they are focused on creating a fulfilling place to work and live – for both themselves and generations to come.

Dan and Sandy are the winners of Massey University Innovation Award and Margaret Matthews Trophy for Commitment to Sustainability

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