Agricultural journalists from around the world are currently touring the South Island, as a wind-down from a congress they have just attended in Hamilton.
The delegation is part of the World Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, and their first stop was the Nelson region. Their introduction to what it offered in the way of food production included an official welcome to Te Awhina Marae in Motueka.
The marae, surrounded by orchards and vineyards, is a stronghold of Wakatu Incorporation's food and beverage division, Kono, which hosted the journalists on the Motueka leg of the road trip.
The Nelson based Wakatu Incorporation represents the interests of about 4000 people who descended from the original Maori land owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions. It has grown from an $11 million asset base in 1977 to its current value of more than $250 million. Land based assets make up 70 percent of its business and Kono makes up the remaining 30 percent.
One of Wakatu's directors Barney Thomas said the Kono brand encapsulated the incorporation's orchards, seafood, wine and fruit bars made from the fruit grown on its orchards.
The Nelson whistle stop started with a visit to Oaklands heritage dairy farm in Stoke. Its move into farm gate sales via vending machines was something new to several of the visitors, including David Schmidt, from Canada's British Columbia.
"One of the novel things they're doing at Oaklands is selling milk from the farm through vending machines - that's something I'd never even heard of before - I suspect there'll be one or two farmers (back home) that might look into the option," Mr Schmidt said.
Sweden's Lars Helgstrand, a journalist whose family grows willow for bio-fuel production, said he was impressed with the general outlook of New Zealand farmers, which he described as "positive and proud" and looking ahead to the future.
Illinois journalist Pamela Smith said she had been keen to visit New Zealand ever since her parents imported Southdown rams and introduced them to their flock in the 1970s.
She said it changed the fortune of their whole farm, and the prize-winning breeding stock even got her through college.
Mrs Smith said even though farming where she lived in the United States' Midwest was on a vast scale, consolidation was occurring and lessons could be learned from what New Zealand had achieved. She said it was interesting to see high levels of quality production through New Zealand's more intensive farming production practises.
"We're seeing some of that, as farmers find margins getting smaller and smaller. They're looking for ways to enhance their productivity and there's a lot to be learned here from what you're doing."
The journalists end their road trip in Christchurch this Friday.