As our adventure in New Zealand is coming to a close, Heath and I still had quite a few things we wanted to cross off our list. Heath's family came out for a family vacation in April, and we knew this would be our chance to see and do a lot of those things. Since none of his family had any idea of things to do in New Zealand other than visit the famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy filming location, Hobbiton, Heath and I began to put our heads together and compiled a hefty list of activities and adventures. We wanted to leave a few days open so we could make room for bad weather and off-the-cuff plans, and it's a good thing we did!
With 9 adults - we were going back and forth about what to do on a particular day. Should we drive 3.5 hours (one way) to Scottish town, Dunedin just to be there for 2-3 hours and drive back in time for us to be the first in line at The Avengers movie? [Side note: this movie happened to come out a WHOLE WEEK before the U.S., and when you have a family of Marvel and DC Comics fans, it was non-negotiable to pass it up.] We hadn't had many active days yet - you know, like hiking - so that was top of the list for Heath and me. But at 12:30 am on the day in question, we finally conceded to go to a farm. While a "farm" might not sound incredibly fun, we knew from a promotional video, we were in for a treat. I mean, a boat ride, cute animals, beautiful gardens and afternoon tea and treats, what's not fun about that?
After a brisk 45 minute steamboat ride over Lake Wakatipu, we met our guide who took us through the property to greet a wide variety of animals. While petting and feeding the animals we heard a lot about their purpose on the farm and some local statistics about the population in this area of the South Island.
Once we were done playing with the animals, we got to enjoy a beautiful and scrumptious high tea in the main building. Baked scones and cakes galore, I was a good girl and only tried two small pieces with my cup of tea. I even got a few friends who wanted to join me on the patio. We had some time to go enjoy the beautiful English style gardens and I played with our Sony NEX-7. I'd say I'm becoming quite the photographer! ;)
After tea and cakes, we made our way to the sheep shearing shed. That's right, sheep shearing! With nearly 40 million sheep in this country (only 4.4 million people), wool is a big business in New Zealand and we hardly go a day without seeing one. The guide (who also did the shearing) told us about the two types of dogs most sheep farms have: the herding dog, and the barking dog. In the pictures below, you'll see the black and white dog is the herding dog, and doesn't actually bark but he corrals the sheep from the pasture closer to the barn, while the the brown dog is the barking one and is meant to scare the sheep into the place they need to go. It was quite funny because the barking brown dog jumps over the fence sideways to keep the "intimidation factor" with the sheep before one is chosen for shearing. It's quite a business - sheep shearing - and based on the type of wool (there's about 3-4 dozen types of sheep), and the cleanliness of the wool, they can make quite a bundle.
After the show, we looked around the gift shop and then made our way back on the steam boat and headed back to Queenstown. It was a nice little tour and one that we'll have fond memories of for many years to come.