Canterbury farmers' entrepreneurial spirit pays off as glamping side-hustle soars

Farming in New Zealand has changed over the decades, with farmers looking to diversify their income to boost traditional farming revenue.  

Lavericks Bay, a stunning sheep and beef farm in Banks Peninsula, is a generational family operation. 

"I'm the sixth generation, our kids are the seventh," entrepreneur Harriet Chapman said. 

Over that time, farming has changed - but not all of it. 

"Basic farming is still the same, still sheep and beef - just genetics have improved and we're doing things slightly differently with the crops," farmer Lloyd Chapman said. "[We're] having to run it at tighter costs - costs have gone up so much." 

So many if not most couples on farms these days look for alternative revenue streams. 

"It's not just about farming changing but women's roles in society - I would think females might have more aspirations," Harriet said. 

Women like Harriet had established careers before marrying and coming to or back to a farm to raise a family. 

She used to work for a multinational engineering firm as a town planner. 

"I was working in town a little bit before our eldest was born but it was just too difficult, but at the same time, I wanted to have something separate to the farm." 

Ten years ago, she set up a 'glamping' site - which was relatively new to New Zealand at the time and has since exploded.  

She knew it would work on their stunning property. 

"I felt tourism was a perfect fit and we also thought glamping would become popular - I didn't realise it would become as popular as it has." 

They've recently added another site on a different part of the farm called the cottage - with an incredible outlook and space.  

It all sits alongside their traditional farming work. 

Farming's challenges come and go and recent times have been tough across the country with droughts, rising costs, low commodity prices and high interest rates. These sites bring other consistent revenue which has allowed more financial wriggle room. 

"It means we can make choices around what's best for the family as opposed to putting money at the forefront of it," Harriet said. 

There's also a bigger gap to contend with from city to country. 

"Everyone used to have a relative on the farm, town families would spend time on the farm - but that doesn't happen now." 

There are long days at Lavericks Bay, without many off - but this family wouldn't have it any other way. 

"To be honest, we sit out on our deck most mornings when the weather allows and sit and have our coffee and comment on how beautiful it is, because it is," Harriet said. 

"Oh, I love it," said Lloyd. "I've often thought, if I wasn't a farmer, what else I would do - and I haven't come up with anything."