The Reserve was part of the 2,800 hectare Ngaio station bought by J G Wilson in 1873, bounded in the east by the Mangaone Stream and on the west by the Rangitikei River. In 1931 Ormond Wilson inherited 320 hectares of the then much diminished Ngaio station. He built the homestead at the head of a gully containing pockets of bush then much damaged by stock, overgrown by vines, as well as being infested with gorse.
He saw the potential of developing the 'bush gully' and set about clearing the gully of the infestations, preserving native trees, encouraging regeneration and planting exotic specimen trees and shrubs. In 1930 the land was a bare paddock and the bush gully was grazed with stock. The homestead was built and the first shelter belts were planted in 1931. Fencing around the bush was completed in 1951 and during the next decade most of the clearings were planted with specimen trees. It took Ormond 40 years to develop the bush gully into what is now a place of beauty.
In December 1972 he gifted the land to the crown as he doubted future landowners 'would have the will to preserve and continue the work I had begun'.
Today the reserve is administered by the Manawatu District Council who has listed the Reserve as one of its most important.
A more detailed history written by Ormond Wilson is available to download in PDF format.
There have been many important visitors to the property when it was owned by Ormond Wilson.
In his autobiography 'An Outsider Looks Back', Ormond Wilson writes that the following people have either stayed or visited the homestead, gardens & bush:
Many favourable comments have been from people who have visited the reserve. Some typical comments received are: