Worldwide History | The Future
A Brief History of Alpaca Farming in New Zealand

The successful introduction of alpacas into New Zealand in the modern era can be attributed to the efforts of two men who refused to let government bureaucracy interfere in their plans to import and farm alpacas in New Zealand.

Ian Nelson who in August 1985 convinced the government to change the status of the animals from a zoo animal to a farm animal.

Murray Bruce whose efforts finally brought about the establishment of a protocol with Chile (July 1987) which in turn led to several large importations of alpacas and llamas.


First importation of alpacas into New Zealand. This herd was part of a large herd of 336 alpacas shipped to Australia in July 1858 by Charles Ledger on behalf of the British Government. Of the 336 animals, 276 animals survived the journey to Australia. Many of the New Zealand animals finished up on the property of George Rhodes of Purau in Lyttelton.

20th August 1985

Ian Nelson of Taupo, finally convinces the Minister of Agriculture to change the status of alpacas and llamas from zoo animals to farm animals, thereby paving the way for businesses and breeders to import direct from Chile. To achieve this goal, Ian had to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment complete with comments from no less than 13 Government departments. Ian was further hindered in his efforts to obtain an import permit in December when it was found that the protocol with Britain was not finalized.

2nd June 1986

Two alpacas and 3 llamas arrive at the Silverstream quarantine station in Wellington. These animals had been air freighted from England and were sourced from the Chester Zoo. Ian and Virginia Nelson’s dream had become a reality.

July 1988

Clyde & Roger Haldane in partnership with Phil Mizrahie (Pet Centre)start buying alpacas in Chile. The Pet Centre had previously made a successful shipment of 300 alpacas to the USA in partnership with Tom Hunt. Their New Zealand trading name was Southern Cross Alpacas.

25th December 1988

Agricola Resources, a public company whose main shareholder is DFC Ventures purchases 800 alpacas and 150 llamas. Agricola and the Haldane partnership team up on a joint shipment of their animals on the Kerry Express.This is the first import by boat using the port of Timaru – the journey takes 26 days during which they lose 29 animals and 104 cria are born. The Agricola animals are trucked on the 18th March 1989 to Rockpool farm owned by Agricola director Brian Bassett- Smith and the Haldane animals go to Waiho Downs farm, near Waimate. With the financial collapse of DFC, Agricola Resources sell off many of their animals to Australia, Japan and Canada.

January 1987

A Wellington syndicate called ARPAC had grand ideas to bring in 500 alpacas with plans for further shipments into New Zealand but an outbreak of foot and mouth and the 1987 share market crash put paid to this grand scheme. The parties involved in the ARPAC shipment are Alan Laurenson, Mike Lynds, Paul O’Regan, Ron Inglis and Murray Richmond

15th July 1989

Murray Bruce (NZ Cameloid Imports Ltd) imports a group of 273 alpacas from Chile after 4.5 years of negotiation. Despite receiving an import permit on the 22/10/86, establishing the protocol with Chile on the 20/07/87,and purchasing the animals in September 1986, an outbreak of foot and mouth in Chile meant the animals could not be exported until Chile was declared disease free in August 1988. It would then take almost a year organizing an aircraft to fly the animals to New Zealand. Of the shipment of 273, 100 animals had been pre-sold to MAFTech for research at Tara Hills Research Station.

November 1989

Pyne Gould Guinness sell off some of the Agricola Resources alpacas in Christchurch. Animals sell for NZ$13,000 and NZ$16,000 respectively to Cherie Bridges of Australia.


Agricultural Ventures Ltd (Agri Ventures)of Pahiatua bring in 284 alpacas from Chile. Agri Ventures is a joint venture between a Chilean exporter and a NZ investment group headed by Peter Johns and Mike MacPherson.The alpacas are run on a Manawatu farm. Most of the animals were owned offshore but would remain in New Zealand until protocols were established overseas. 50 alpacas are sold to MAFTech for research at Flock House near Bulls.

1st August 1990

Roger Haldane charters a Singapore Airlines freighter and exports 479 alpacas to Melbourne. This herd consists of the original 300 imports plus cria and approximately 100 animals purchased from Agricola Resources after the collapse of DFC.

March 1990

Alan Hamilton air freights 291 alpacas to New Zealand from Chile. They are then taken by helicopter to a barge anchored near Soames Island in Wellington Harbour for quarantine (60 days). The animals are shipped to Christchurch on the 27/05/90 and transported to Hamilton’s Loch Maree farm at Darfield.. Hamilton intends to breed from the stock and export to Australia, Canada and the Unites States.

Loch Maree farm becomes headline news when 25 alpacas die over a 3 month period from November 1990 to February 1991 due to mysterious circumstances.

The deaths were later proven to be caused by a fast acting poison. No-one is ever charged. The farm is sold in May 1991 and the animals moved south.

13th January 1992

A further shipment of 288 alpacas (40 suris) and 40 llamas arrive in New Zealand from Chile on behalf of Invercargill based Alpaca Corporation. They have been trying to get a permit for 4.5 years. The parties involved in the shipment were Rob Orchard, Steve Jenkins, Brian Vidler, Jurgen Shultz and Tom Hunt.

The shipment took nearly 12 months due to long periods of quarantine in Chile, Soames Island and Christchurch. Alpaca Corporation chartered a DC 8 from Florida Air West which flew the animals to Christchurch and then immediately to Wellington. Four animals had a very low grade positive antibody resulting in 10 foot and mouth tests being carried out during their time in quarantine- they were then destroyed. The animals were agisted at Oxford and then moved to Rob Orchard’s Mayfield property, Glencol alpaca and llama farm. From this herd, alpacas were sold to Alan Hamilton and Wendy Billington in Australia and 40 were exported to the USA - a few were sold to local breeders.

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Silverstream Alpaca Stud Farm
68 Moodys Road
RD 2
Kaiapoi 7692
North Canterbury
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