Sheep Farm… Here we Come!!


Last night we went out to dinner and sat next to a lovely couple from D.C. They had lived in Wellington, NZ for 7 months and this was their first trip back. They enjoyed living here. So, our tables were next to each other and so we spent the entire time visiting. Very fun. The waitress brought one of their courses (it was tapas, actually) and they had ordered smoked eel. Thing was, they brought the eel all wrapped up inside a bowl, cooked of course, but unskinned. Can’t say too much about the presentation…I was thinking perhaps I should bolt for the door…but it was too funny watching him skin the thing (9 inches long perhaps) and then eat it. They offered us some and we felt it would be rude to turn it down. It was actually quite good…but the visuals were just dreadful.

Because we were eating and drinking and having fun, the clock hands just whirled around the clock face and we ended up pulling into Cottage Mew Motel around 11 p.m., threw off our clothes and piled into bed.

This morning, when I got up and checked the time it was 10 a.m. OMG. Check out time. What happened to us? A bit tired I presume or someone perhaps laced our drinks? Naaaa. They are way too nice in NZ. The lady at the front desk (owner), told us to take our time. There were 3 other units to clean, no problem. Wow. Nice.

The coffee here and in NZ is incredible. Long black is what you order if you want a cup of joe without anything in it. Then there is the flat white. That’s coffee with milk on top. Not quite a latte. The coffee is rich, unbitter, strong…we haven’t had a bad cup anywhere. So today we headed South (think colder) to our sheep farm. Well, as always, there were adventures to be had thanks primarily to my questionable planning skills in this case. Here’s a picture of the lake we stayed by in Taupo. Actually the lake resides in a caldera. About 70,000 years ago a huge volcano erupted and the caldera formed and it filled with water and now it’s where you can go and pay money to try to hit a man-made floating ‘island’ with a golf ball. Really. Here’s pictures to prove it.

Just had to stop. Watched these young guys with big egos try to hit the island and then I piped up and said, “You need to club up.” He was missing everything short. The kid that ran the business, if he also owned it, was laughing all the way to the bank. And there was a snorkeler out in the freezing water retrieving the balls. Too funny.

After a cup of flat white and an orange and date scone for breakfast, we headed to the Craters of the Moon. Here is a picture. It was a nice day out and the walk was great. We really enjoyed being out in the sunshine and out of the car…the world’s most expensive rental.




But I digress. We then headed to the sheep farm, our base camp while in NZ. It appears to me, the tree hugger, that they are clear cutting NZ at a rapid rate. Oh, there is some replanting going on but look at these pictures.

A bit disappointing to see this. It also explains, I think, why the dirt looks so unstable…it is …because of erosion. And cutting all these trees down is not a form of beautification. What are they thinking? Went for miles observing this. This is nothing new. There are more sheep in NZ than people, I’m sure. And they graze this land that has been relieved of it’s trees. Oh, well. I’m sure they know what they are doing…it was just a bit shocking to see this on the way down to Napier. Another picture.

Napier is an art-deco community. We only saw one art-deco building as we drove through. The other thing we saw was a McDonalds which we stopped at to use their free wi-fi. Who knew McDonalds provides free wi-fi? We didn’t know this. It was when we stopped along the highway at a small turn-out that advertised coffee (on the way to Napier) that we discovered that they did. Actually we split a veggie ‘loaf’ and a chocolate brownie for lunch along with coffee. We were the only people there and it was wonderful. And, get this. The owners were from Africa and the whole place was decorated in African motif and they had a retail business selling African stuff. I admired one basket but they wanted $265 for it and so I just kept admiring it. Outside, I also admired Lizzy the lamb.

But I digress. We needed free wi-fi because, well, I didn’t have the address for the sheep farm. Small oversight. So, we got the address but it wasn’t too specific. It was near the town of Waipawa. We wrote it down along with the phone number. Did I mention that we are not using our cell phones? So…we needed a phone. I spotted a hospital so we ducked in to the maternity ward of the Napier hospital (it was not art-deco either) and I asked the woman behind the desk if there was a pay phone. She replied, “Is it a local call”? I showed her the number and asked her if she thought it was local. “No, it not. Here, let me dial it up for you.” OMG. What fabulous people the kiwis are. They are helpful and genuine, friendly, funny and smart. And the woman behind the desk was no exception.

No one answered. Now the rayman was starting to ‘be concerned’. In truth so was I. But I put on my happy face and got back in the car and kept heading toward Waipawa. When we reached Waipawa which as about 30 or so minutes down the road, I pulled over and announced that perhaps the grocery story had a pay phone. So we went in to ask. Nope. They did not but the manager let me use the store phone (I didn’t even ask, she just volunteered). Ring, ring, ring. No answer. ugh. So, Ray asked a woman that had a name of a local fire district on her shirt and between her, the store manager and the fire woman’s husband, we got some directions. Oh, yes, the Kerr place. They knew where it was. And the directions went something like this:

I’ll fill this in later too!!





So, we followed the direction and lo and behold we found the place. It was 30 minutes from the town which had probably 300 people living it it. We were out in the middle of nowhere. When we turned onto 139……, it was a gravel road. And up and up it went. When we arrived at the house, no one was there. OMG. Now what? There was a truck in the driveway but whose?

Let me digress. The owners of this farm and farm house are in Beijing. We had arranged for their son to meet us at the house today…all through the wonders of email. We didn’t had his phone. We only had their phone and no one was answering. Panic was setting in…except my fall back was to drive back into town and get a motel. We thought we should leave and as we were driving out the driveway (it was sort of circular), I saw some people at a house a couple of hundred yards away getting into a van. Ray got out and asked them if this was the Kerr residence. A woman said, no, it’s that one…pointing to the one we had just found. So, Ray drove back to the Kerr house. Then I jumped out and headed to the driveway where I waved the woman down as she was driving by. She was taking her kids to a dance party and she said, “oh, just go inside. Duncan is probably out with the sheep. I’m sure the place is open. He’s expecting you”. OMG. This was really stunning. Fabulous people everywhere.

Indeed the house was open. Indeed Duncan was down on the farm training a new dog. He showed us around and told his he’d be back tomorrow. I can see why. This farm is about 1700 acres and has 6,000 breeding ewes…and lots of babies are running around. They are so cute! And they need Duncan. And so do we. Who knew I’d have something in common with sheep other than loin chops, dare I say. Or wool.

But I digress. This house is way out. I mean it. Perhaps we’ve never been quite so alone. Although there are two cats, a dog, 6,000 ewes and even some cattle. And some neighbors. But still, we are very isolated if you compare it to say, San Francisco.

Well, the story doesn’t end here. We needed to go back to town to get something to eat and some cereal etc. for the morning. So we jumped in the Holden, the car we are going to drive while we are here, and it wouldn’t start. And it was in the garage, a one car garage…and the jumper cables weren’t long enough. So, Ray went back in to get the keys to the rental car…and the phone rang. It was Keith, the foreman. He wanted to make sure we had arrived. Was everything okay? Did we need anything? These people are helpful. Ray had a great chat and it was decided that we’d deal with the Holden tomorrow. So, off we went. We ate, we shopped (and told the store manager we actually found the place) and returned home (saw one other car in 53 km) to find more lights on than we left on. Found a note on the counter. ‘The car is fixed…Cheers, Duncan.’

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