Farm where moa roamed blossoms into digital age

It may be out the back of beyond but picturesque organic flower farm Moa Stone Estate, in the foothills of Mt Karioi, is growing into quite the destination these days.

The rural Te Mata business-cum-tourist attraction – which has just launched its own website – offers everything from lotus flower tea tastings and ‘sip & stroll’ tours around its flourishing gardens right through to a small “venue” for intimate functions and a rustic cabin for luxury stay-overs.

A recent celebration on site marked the fruition of the Cornes Rd venture, which has been in the making since 2015 but open to the public less than four years. 

Champagne was popped at the Sunday afternoon occasion for family and friends, the website went live and guests got to take in stunning views from the newly built venue and the boutique off-grid accommodation facing Mt Karioi.

“Experience the flower farm,” boasts Moa Stone Estate’s website, a sentiment echoed by Mika Field and partner Josh Cornes who together have created this place they call paradise.

The enterprising couple have more than 300 varieties of flowers and foliage thriving on a two-acre plot of fertile, family land. Josh grew up here on the farm, his ‘number eight wire’   experience in engineering and construction put to good use building the rimu walls and floors of the new cabin, and the long table and barstools in the adjacent venue.

Mika – with a passion for flowers inherited from her mother while growing up in the Netherlands – does everything from growing and selling blooms to drying and transforming them into bath-salts and other botanicals for the shop. She uses the likes of eucalyptus oil from the aromatic trees planted back in 2016 when her idea of creating Moa Stone Estate was still in its infancy. 

She now has floral workshops on offer along with guided ‘sip & stroll’ tours through the flower farm. Visitors can choose between having a rose or French sparkling wine in hand, she says, or opt for the lotus flower tea experience. They might also like to pick their favourite blooms from the gardens full of proteas, orchids, lotus flowers, water lilies and more to take home in a bouquet.

“We can cater for every occasion,” promises Mika with her larger-than-life personality. “We want to be part of your celebrations.”

Meantime, the land itself has a unique history from which the estate’s name derives. A treasure trove of moa stones was unearthed during site excavations, Mika told the Chronicle. And some of the gemstones are New Zealand opals, on display in the shop.

Moa Stone Estate’s website explains how the now-extinct moas ate stones to help them digest their food, and while in their gizzard these stones developed a polished effect – tiny remnants of which are preserved in the ground.

It’s an archaeological background that of course vastly pre-dates the arrival in European settler times of the Cornes who’ve farmed here since 1850. Now their own family history is attached to the land, with Clem and Margaret Cornes having farmed this beef-raising  property for decades as did Clem’s parents, grandparents and great-grandparents before them.

“It’s fantastic seeing the business developed,” Margaret – now 54 years on the farm and looking forward to what’s to come – told those gathered at the Moa Stone Estate celebration. 

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