History of Brookfield

The Festival is held at Brookfield Outdoor Education Centre in Moore’s Valley, beyond Wainuiomata.The Brookfield Outdoor Education Centre is located on the site of the original 355 acres purchased by John Crowther in 1864 and developed as a farm. His daughter Mary lived all her life on the property and on her death in 1958 bequeathed it to Scouting. Adjoining land has since been purchased so that the Centre now extends over 650 acres.

In 1961, a Campfire Circle was built on the site of the original farm cottage and evidence of the garden hedge is still visible along with a number of very tall camellias, hydrangeas and a magnificent magnolia tree.

Mary Crowther supplemented her income with sales of fruit and a number of the old apple trees also remain in the orchard.

In the early 1920s, two young pig shooters, Harold and Roy Nelson, visited Brookfield and started a friendship with Mary Crowther that lasted until her death and was instrumental in the property being bequeathed to Scouting. They spent many weekends and holidays at Brookfield, doing odd chores around the place and introducing scouts to the outdoors.

Roy Nelson died in 1986 and left his estate to Scouting and, in 1989, the cottage he and Harold had lived in all their lives at Petone was moved to Brookfield. This was renamed Nelson Lounge and contains some of the Nelson brothers’ furniture and memorabilia.