26 September 2011

Naturally Alpacas with Christine & Steve


When I spoke to Sam about the next leg of our trip, he said, "but I never want to leave!"  We've both been enjoying our time on the alpaca farm very much.  Sam and I discovered we love building fences on the grassy green hills of New Zealand, surrounded by loud mouth steers, wild pukeko and curious alpacas. 


Christine & Steve are lovely hosts, with a good sense of humor and, like our last hosts, a very productive lifestyle.  Look out the kitchen window when you wake up, and you're likely to see Christine in a pen, wrestling an alpaca into a harness for training.  The food here is amazing.  Christine used to be a chef, so we're eating very well.  Steve is a photographer, specializing in bird photography.  The farm is on a state highway, and they run a shop here where they sell Steve's photography, Christine's fiber arts (made from alpaca wool, of course!), as well as artwork from other area artists and some knitting supplies.  I'm thinking of taking up knitting again, even more so as I write this because it's chilly in the room with the internet connection.


Stump on a hill
One of the many beautiful views from the farm.

Aside from fence building with Steve and Sam, I've been able to give Christine a hand harness training a few of the young alpacas.  It was very funny watching them react to the harness like our cat Sea Bass.  Fleur was a drama queen, sitting down and refusing to budge, but Pip won the prize for silliness when he managed, in his flailing tantrum, to get his front elbow hooked around his neck, unable to get himself free.  Christine seemed to get all the jumpers, bucking and kicking to free themselves of the wretched leash.

Lazy baby


A coordinated effort
Alpacas are always lifting a leg to scratch themselves.  These two make a coordinated effort.

Alpacas and steers aren't the only animals on the farm.  The Harts have a small (no pun intended) herd of Miniature Highland Cattle, which are nearly as broad as their larger cousins, but much stumpier.  Three of them are pregnant, near bursting, but they're due in October, so we won't get to see any babies unless something happens in the next few days.

Miniature Highland Cattle

Miniature Highland Cattle

Miniature Highland Cattle

Paris, one of the two residential Siamese cats.  Nicole is camera shy.

We had yesterday off, so we visited Steve at his photography booth at the Kerikeri farmers market, about 20 minutes away.  We were pleased to find the most reasonably priced cheese we've seen in this country so far, from a neighboring farm and cheese factory called Mahoe Cheese.


After the farmers market, we ventured north to Whangaroa, which we randomly chose off the map.  It's a tiny place, and eventually the road going north ended abruptly at the gate to a driveway and a strange sign.

Donkeyman's Nest

We were interested in a rock we saw towering over the town, so we tried to get closer.  We found a sign indicating a hiking trail leading to the summit, and we headed up.

Sam on the ascent

A drizzling rain spat down on us for most of the ascent, but once we reached the very top of the rock we were given a respite.  The views were beautiful, but I have the feeling once we've been to the South Island, this hill and its views will look paltry.

Sam on high

At the summit

Oyster farm

Friday morning we head to our next hosts' house in Pahi, in the Kaipur Harbor.  We'll be there for 2 weeks, helping Elaine & Grant with various projects at their home and their holiday park in Whangerei, along with a few other HelpXers.  Life is good!


Katherine said...

If you love building fence, Todd and I may enlist you sometime when you're back in the states :-) Waco isn't as pretty as this area, though! I wonder if I can talk Todd into alpacas?

Kristen said...

Cool! I have to warn you, though, electric fences don't seem to work on alpacas. One female here rubs her face on because she loves the shock. You should definitely get some, though, because they're very cute.

nohomo said...

YAY New Zealand!