It's an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand's most famous farm.
Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam are up before the birds.
Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.
The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station's far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.
Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match.
It brings out the best in people, according to farm manager Jim Ward.
"It's land that we all have an empathy with," he says.
"Since I've been here six sets of ashes of stockmen have been spread at Tarndale. It really gets inside your bones, I tell you."
The engine of a dusty ex-army truck thrums in the dark as Duncan saddles up.
The horses, dogs and men have a lot of ground to cover so they use a Unimog for the hour-long drive to their start point on the western flank of the property.
Steep scree-laden ranges, stony river beds and a climate that can switch from achingly hot and dry to well below freezing in a matter of days mean the horses are purpose-bred on the property.
Duncan leads his horse, Roger, to the truck.
"He's big, he's a cruiser ... nice, easy-going ... yeh, he goes wherever I point him."
A couple of dozen dogs, yelping with excitement hop in behind.
Duncan and his fellow musterers pile in the front.
A hint of pink in the eastern sky signals another hot dry day to come.
"When I came here, a fella said to me, there're no other places in New Zealand you can saddle your horse every morning and let your dogs off to go to work," Duncan says.
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