Apple business Rockit Global is expanding into the South Island to build its growing base. The company has combined with the Turley family in South Canterbury’s Rangitata to put in an initial 20-hectare orchard. Rockit already has a base of about 850ha planted in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne under company ownership or via a license to other growers. The apples are grown in nine other countries, mainly for domestic supply with the largest plantings in the Washington state of the United States.

According to Commercial general manager Tom Lane, the first commercial planting in the South Island followed several trial orchards in the south. Apple growing was a long-term investment with trees taking six to eight years to reach full production, he said. “With climate change and extreme weather events we’ve seen over the last couple of years we’ve been very focused on where we’re growing and what that’s going to look like in the next 10 to 15 years. We’ve worked closely with parties to climate [model] this and that’s where Canterbury really came up trumps.”