The state-owned farming enterprise Landcorp has confirmed it will bid for the 16 Crafar family farms that are in receivership.
The mainly dairy farms are in the central and southern North Island.
The receivers, KordaMentha, have already conditionally agreed to an offer from a company linked to the Hong Kong-based investment company Natural Dairy Holdings.
But that sale depends on Overseas Investment Office approval.
The receivers are also free to accept a better offer if they get one by the deadline in two days.
Landcorp's chief executive, Chris Kelly, says that, while it's likely that its bid may not match the Chinese offer in financial terms, it may still be more attractive to the receivers.
He says the board decided to go ahead with the bid for purely commercial reasons, and not for altruistic reasons.