Mapping out what Central Otago does best

We’re well-known for our orchards here in Central Otago – from stone fruits to award-winning pinot noirs, our region is perfect for it. You only have to drive into town to see it’s a big part of who we are! Sometimes referred to as Central Otago’s treasure. Grab a real fruit ice cream on your way to snap a selfie with the big fruit.

As Cromwell locals, we’ve worked on a fair few orchards, from initial land surveys and planning to orchard and building development. Most recently, we’ve been working closely with Hortinvest on Lindis Peaks Orchard out on Deep Creek Road, Tarras. Hortinvest have been in the game since 2016, and we've partnered with them on several projects in Central Otago including Mt Pisa, Lindis Peaks, and Ardgour Valley.

We got involved in the Deep Creek Road project at an early stage – to survey the land and help with planning, from subdivision and land use consents to orchard planting maps and packhouse construction. Hortinvest partnered with us to lay the groundwork for them to deliver the surveying, consenting, and civil engineering designs for both the orchard and supporting Lindis Coolpac Packhouse in Tarras on a separate site.

Sharon Kirk, Co-founder of Hortinvest, explains: “What we do is not achieved on our own. Landpro is our strategic partner in creating these orchards, mapping and planning from the get-go. They’re awesome to work with - the team is really motivated, and they take the time to explain what needs to be done and the exact steps to get there. To have a professional team you can work with at that initial stage makes all the difference.”

A key deliverable for us when orchard planning is producing specialist virtual maps. When it gets to planting, these maps are critical as they are used to quantify the required infrastructure i.e. the number of trees, posts and even the net canopy lengths and areas.  The virtual maps are also used in our GPS systems to set out the orchard irrigation lines and the lines that will be used for automated planting. To assist with planting our survey team set out the orchard row alignment on the ground and the tractor then locks on the line using its GPS system. With the desired tree spacing dialed into the planter, the tractor works its magic one row at a time.      

Hortinvest using Landpro maps on GPS to optimise tree planting

We tackled this particular orchard project in 3 stages:

  1. Survey and planning

The land is mapped by our survey team at the very start of the orchard planning process.  This informs land use consents, submitted by our planning team and is a base model used by our survey team for any orchard work. 

Once mapping is complete, we meet with Ross Kirk to create a virtual orchard in our mapping software. The virtual orchard map allows us to quantify the materials required to construct the orchard.  Knowing the exact number of trees needed is essential given the lead time required to get thousands of trees from the nursery to the site at precisely the right time to coincide with irrigation install! Lindis Peaks now has a total of 50,000 trees.

The virtual orchard maps are sent onto other consultants to plan the irrigation systems. The completed irrigation maps are then returned to our survey team and can be uploaded to our GPS systems and set out in the field for construction of the irrigation system and planting.

  1. Expansion and water storage

To add to the fun, our planning and survey team got involved in concept design and consenting the dam for the orchard.  We worked alongside third parties for this part, to design a 29,000 cubic metre reservoir that will be capable of providing frost fighting supply to the orchard and the packhouse operation. 

  1. Planning the Lindis Coolpac Packhouse in Tarras

Finally, on a separate site, we tackled the initial work towards constructing hte Lindis Coolpac Packhouse to support the orchard, with room for growth to service other orchards in the group.  The building site was chosen for its easy access for trucks – based close to the Christchurch-Cromwell highway.  From surveying to earthworks design and building placement, we helped to make sure they were set up for success as they carry out the build and for their future operation on-site.  Building consents for the Lindis Coolpac Packhouse all included Landpro’s earthworks designs, and we laid out the foundations for future needs (such as the addition of a carpark).

The Lindis Coolpac packhouse plot as at April 2022.

Nathan Archer, Survey Manager at Landpro says: “I love working with Ross, Sharon, and the Hortinvest team. They’re a fantastic bunch of people and I get a real feeling of family and commitment from them too. For Landpro, it’s a start to finish project - we are involved all along the way, and that’s what we love. I personally receive a lot of satisfaction in seeing ideas that were sparked years before coming to fruition and built on site!” 

Of course, the work spot has jaw dropping views to boot! Can’t complain.

So, where are we at now? 

We've been busy installing nets at Lindis Peak and Mt Pisa orchards, and lifting the roof on the Lindis Coolpac Packhouse. Take a look at Hortinvest's winter update video below to see more.