NZ Alpine Lavender



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


There's a mesmerizing visual "disturbance" on the road to Aoraki/Mt Cook. The man responsible, Blake Foster, once contemplated putting a sign on SH80 with this stern warning: “Caution: purple distraction ahead.” Blake says that one local who hadn't visited that stretch of highway for a while, nearly drove off the road when he clapped eyes on the purple haze. With friend Allan Tibby, Blake created the largest certified organic lavender farm in the southern hemisphere, growing three main cultivars: ‘Pacific Blue', ‘Avice Hill', and the excellently named ‘Violet Intrigue'. The farm has classy neighbours (the towering Ben Ōhau range on one side and Lake Pūkaki on the other), and apparently it's the only lavender to be found at an altitude of 600m. Blake and business partner Ethan Gabriel credit this lofty perch and its volatile alpine environment for giving their lavender oil its extra potency. During the summer months (especially January), there are vast swathes of mauve before the plants are harvested. After that, the distillation magic happens, and the purple proceeds are magicked into lavender oil, lotions, soap and chocolate available from their shipping container-cum-shop. Rumour has it their lavender ice cream is quite the best thing to attach oneself to while sitting between the lavender rows (they station chairs for lavender-sniffing pleasure). It sounds like the fastest route towards purple sensory stupor. The lavender is in bloom from December to March (as is the gift shop). 397 Mt Cook Highway. 027 268 1546,