The Miln family's story is the quintessential story of rural New Zealand.
When the great-grandparents emigrated from England in the late 1860's, over 150 years ago, they settled in Christchurch with their eight children. As the children grew and spread their wings, one son George Miln, moved north and purchased the large block of uncleared land that became 'Montrose Farm' - the name meaning - Plateau on top of mountain - inspired by the land, a lead-light window was brought from England during the family's resettlement, and now taking pride of place at the entrance of Montrose Manor.
It was a tough, pioneering life with fortunes that ebbed and flowed. The land in the early 1900's had to be cleared of native bush mostly by hand and horses, then cobalt deficiencies in the soil identified and remedied. There was no power and only a clay road to negotiate by horse and cart. But the community was tight knit and families helped each other out. When things got really tough, the family sold some of the farm to a neighbour, later buying it back when fortunes improved.
Initially the family had a small dairy herd, later shifting to the sheep and beef stock more suited to the rolling hill country. Current owners Rodney and Leanne have raised their four children on the farm but their home is still a social hub for family and friends, with at least 10 people around the dinner table every weekend.
The community is still close, too – a typical old-fashioned rural district – and guests often love the opportunity to take part in local activities such as dances and table tennis evenings. For overseas visitors and New Zealanders alike, it offers a rare insight into the heart of rural New Zealand.
“The very perfect stay where the grass can never be greener in the shire! We absolutely enjoyed our stay with Leanne and Rod, and their beautiful family - fantastic host. The view over the front of the house is absolutely stunting” - TeonghoMore Reviews