Reports from New Zealand this morning are saying that a Chinese company, Shanghai Pengxin, through a New Zealand subsidiary has agreed to buy the 34,000ac (13,800 hectare) Lochinver Station near Taupo valued at more than NZ$70 million (€44m).

The farm was put up for sale in December 2013 and the real estate company Bayleys handling the sale said it was expecting a record price for a farm sale in New Zealand.

According to reports today, the station has three airstrips, a lake, recreational hunting block, 22 houses, a school and 91km of roads.

Should the sale go through it would be the second-biggest foreign acquisition of New Zealand land by value.

The announcement comes after Conservative Party leader Colin Craig criticised the company, which bought 8,000 acres in New Zealand in 2012, for doing a secret deal to buy more land.

“Although the deal has been agreed between the parties, and the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has received an application, the deal has not been disclosed to the public,” he says.

“We believe voters should be aware of what’s going on behind closed doors, this is clearly an election issue.”

Craig says his party will “oppose all substantial land sales to foreign business interests”. “We will be changing the criteria of the Overseas Investment Office so that our country is not sold up.”

However, he does support alternatives to buying land, including joint ventures or leasing options. The Chinese company now owns 16 farms in the North Island and plans to secure ‘operational synergies’ over time in buying the property and some of its neighbouring farms.

Shanghai Pengxin also has a majority stake in 13 farms in the South Island.