Good things in small places
Kereru and tui fill the gardens at Hook Bush Lavender in the Hunters Hills. The lavender farm, planted by Russell and Catherine Rofe, is a popular stopping point for camper vans and wilderness campers.
Russell and Catherine put in their first lavender plants in 2007. There are now around 8,000 lavenders, producing oil and dried rubbings.
The first variety they planted, Avice Hill, was bred in Christchurch. The resulting oil - extracted by the Rofe’s in a still on their farm - won the top oil of New Zealand in 2008. This oil is exported to the United States where it’s bottled and sold to European tourists by the busload.
Another variety, Pacific Blue, produces an oil that’s very high in antiseptic properties. This is exported to Australia in dog mats that are made in Whangarei..
Russell and Catherine’s vision has inspired others to plant lavender in North Otago and Waimate district - and Russell extracts and exports oil from flowers at Hook Bush and further afield.
They market a range of lavender oils and oil-based products from a shop right next door to the distillery.
This enterprising pair also tap into the district’s growing tourism trade. They provide space for campervans and campers; and they also make hunters welcome too. A recent culling programme netted 641 wallabies in one night; and a possum hunter trapped 2300 possums over five weeks.
There’s a 20ha stand of protected regenerating native bush on the property, where visitors can learn about New Zealand’s plants and birds.
Visitors are welcome to call in and picnic in the grounds. Russell and Catherine enjoy sharing their knowledge of plant propagation, and the natural history of the district.
Hook Bush Lavendar, 501 Upper Hook Rd, Hunter.
P. 03 689 5510