Just north of Lake Coleridge in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand is a High Country sheep station that has been farming Merino sheep for over a hundred years.

The days out here start early. After an hour long 4x4 journey in the dark, the head lights finding a way along rough gravel tracks and across braided crystal rivers we came upon a couple of small neatly painted cottages. Blue smoke spiraled out of the chimney and the smell of bacon fat and coffee mixed with the wood smoke and drifted out over the rough damp pasture. A team of men had slept here over night and were ready to go when we arrived. Backpacks provisioned with home made lunches and flasks of tea.

The collie X heading dogs circled like sharks and the black and tans cruised the fence lines. I was expecting a couple of hours trekking into the hills but was told - there's no time for that, we need to get the sheep down and into the yards before this cold front hits and soaks the wool. The shearers are booked and we've got 10 000 head to get through.

The heavy thud of helicopter blades split the thick predawn air and set the wood smoke dancing. A B2 Squirrel floated down a couple of hundred meters away from the cottages. With the blades still rotating the shepherds and their dogs were unceremoniously bundled in for a quick cork screw trip up to the summits that surrounded the valley.

I couldn't, for the life of me work out how, with a handful of dogs the team were going to clear the massive area of the thousands of yet unseen sheep. But they did - and they did it in time for the shearers.