Cairnmuir Olives is a small family owned business, run by Stephen and Anna Clark and
their son Christopher.
The olive grove was established in 1999 on a 4.4 hectare plot of undeveloped land that
was formerly part of the Cairnmuir high country sheep station. The plot was of very low
fertility given over to wild thyme, vipers bugloss and Californian poppies. Development
of the site was undertaken in such a way as to preserve as far as possible the existing
Central Otago soils are very low in organic matter and to address this deficiency the
whole family spent several weeks slithering around under the Cairnmuir Station
shearing shed cleaning out all of the sheep manure, which was then applied to each
The first planting of approximately 550 trees was completed in December 1999 and a
further planting of approximately 450 trees was undertaken in November 2001. Central
Otago's winters can be very cold so the cold tolerant Tuscan varieties Frantoio,
Leccino and Pendolino were planted.
In 2001 we commissioned the first olive press in Central Otago. An Oliomio 50 centrifugal press from Italy was purchased
and set up in a purpose built shed. The intention was to provide a contract
pressing service to other growers and in due course to press our own olives.
Because our own trees were not yet producing we scoured Central Otago for
mature trees to provide sufficient olives to commission the press. Olive trees
turned up in all sorts of unlikely places and we met some very interesting
In the intervening years we have seen our trees flourish and we have endured
the vagaries of the weather, which have caused roller coaster variations in our
crop yields. As members of Central Otago Olive Growers and Olives New
Zealand we have enjoyed the interaction with fellow growers and in the course
of selling our oil we have enjoyed meeting chefs, restaurateurs, specialist food
retailers and members of the general public who have shared our love of olive
Our mission has always been to produce the highest quality olive oil possible
and to that end we submit our oils each year for certification by Olives New
Zealand. Our oils have also been entered in the Olives New Zealand Extra
Virgin Olive Oil Awards to provide an independent assessment of the oils. We
are very pleased to have won awards each year since 2004.