Clayton Station

est circa 1860 


 Clayton Station is a 4100Ha Station, comprising both intensive flat land and high-country farming. We are currently farming 3,000 Red deer, 9,500 Romney Texel sheep and 1,300 Angus cattle.

It is located in the Sherwood District in the foothills of the Southern Alps of South Canterbury, New Zealand. The thriving rural town of Fairlie is located 22km down the road, which is in the iconic Mackenzie Country on route to Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook and Queenstown. 

Clayton Station is a large property with a history of farming dating back to the 1860's. Today, Clayton Station has a successful, environmentally award-winning deer and sheep & beef operation, both of national and international standing as well as dairy grazing and recently added tourism enterprises including Fox Cottage and the Clayton High Country Trail.


Our Family


Hamish and Anna Orbell and their children Alice, Arthur and Jack live on Clayton Station and the Orbell Family have farmed here for three generations. 

We employ 4 full time staff, including shepherds, a tractor driver and a general hand who all live on the property in either the farm cottages or the shearers quarters. Staff numbers fluctuate over the busy season, particularly during the summer months when we are harvesting crops and tailing and weaning lambs.


James Dundas Hamilton, his musterers and shepherds with their dogs at Clayton Station circa 1890

A Year at Clayton Station

The day-to-day running of Clayton Station never stops and encompasses many different events across all breeds and seasons. 


Winter routine – moving breaks, set stocking sheep and cows, drafting velvet stags.


Ewes start lambing, cows start calving. Tractor work starts in preparation for pasture renewal.

Lambs are tailed and drenched. Velveting starts for the season. Sorting hinds for fawning (sire mobs) All winter feed crops are put into the ground. Shearing hoggets





Drenching and dipping ewes and lambs, calf marking, bull goes out to the cows. Velveting

Lambs are weaned and some sold on to be fattened while some stay on farm to grow out to be sold later.

Our main shear is in January and wool is sold. Our cross bred wool is used predominantly for carpet

Velveting 2-year-old stags and regrowth


Lambs that haven’t been sold in January are then sold in February/March.

 The stags go out to the hinds




Fawns are weaned. All weaners that are not kept as replacement breeding hinds or velveting stags are sold.

Harvest grain – i.e barley and wheat


Calves are weaned and all calves not being kept for replacement breeding cows are sold. Autumn sown crops put in the ground – i.e barley and wheat

5th May - the stag comes out and the hinds are put onto the hill for the winter.

10th May – the rams go out to the ewes


All cows are scanned, the dry cows are sold and the remaining cows are put out onto the hill for the winter.




Moving breaks and feeding out winter feed, keeping everyone happy!

The ram comes out and ewes are put into 2 mobs to graze the hill.

All hinds are scanned and the dry hinds are sold. All remaining hinds go back out onto the hill.

Ewes are scanned and the dry ewes are sold. The ewes carrying twins are put onto break feeding and also fed silage until lambing.

Fox Cottage Accommodation is available for booking all year round.

The Clayton Station Hill Trail is seasonal, and available upon request. 



Clayton Station is one of the longest running family owned properties in the Mackenzie District, dating back to 1859. The original homestead was built in 1860 and since then it has been added on to over the years with each generation.

In 1881 Clayton Station was sold to the Hamilton brothers (at that stage the farm was 13,360 Ha / 33,000 acres) who brought the sheep numbers up to 30,000. In the winter of 1895 however, there was 3ft 6in of snow which caused the deaths of 15,000 sheep which was catastrophic in terms of their farming operation.

In 1911 the Crown bought 10,390 acres and in 1927 it was sold to the MacKenzie brothers who then sold the farm to Derek Orbell in 1964.

In 1970 2,079 acres was retired to the Department of Conservation and another 795 Ha was retired in 2004 as part of the tenure review plan. In 2005 6,800 acres was sold as part of the family succession plan.


Clayton boasts two listed heritage sites; being the original homestead - still lived in by Hamish, Anna and their three children. Also, the Stables are listed as a heritage site were built circa 1860.

Clayton Station homestead in 1878 behind

Clayton Station homestead in 1878

James Dundas Hamilton, his musterers and

James Dundas Hamilton, his musterers and shepherds with their dogs at Clayton Station circa 1890