Pete’s Farm Stay
Our friends Tricia and Tyler strongly recommended spending a night at Pete’s Farm Stay (just a half hour outside of Christchurch, NZ), to experience a “truly Kiwi experience” and so that Baby M could pet some animals. At first I balked at the price (expensive, if you’re just thinking about it as an accommodation), but I figured it was worth it for the experience (and plus, our stay would fall on my birthday, so… ‘treat yourself’ — or ‘treat yo’ self’ for all you “Parks and Recreation” fans).
We arrived in Christchurch during what appeared to be a typhoon. The rain was coming down nonstop and blowing sideways. We were told the weather wasn’t typical for New Zealand in April… When we arrived at Pete’s Farm Stay in the afternoon, the rain had sort of subsided, but the grounds were too wet for the “sheep shearing demo,” which was pushed to the following morning.
At Pete’s Farm Stay, we were greeted by Pete, who along with his wife Gaye, run the farm stay. (It seems there isn’t much money to be made from raising sheep to be sheared — when they’re young, and then sent to slaughter — when they’re around 8 years old, so Pete and Gaye decided to open up their farm and home to tourists.) Pete showed us our 2-bedroom self-contained cottage. Luckily it was nice and toasty (remember, autumn starts in April in the southern hemisphere!). At Pete’s recommendation, we went into the nearby town of Rangiora (about a 12 minute drive) for dinner and the supermarket.
The following morning, we woke up to the brightest, bluest skies. If not for the wet grounds, there was no evidence at all of a typhoon! We had breakfast (cereal, toast, fruit, coffee/tea and delicious homemade blueberry muffins) at Pete and Gaye’s house. The other guests were discussing their plans for the day, and wondering about the road conditions due to the rain and mudslides. We knew that parts of the coastal highway Route 1 were still closed north of Kaikoura (our next destination) due to an earthquake in the fall of 2016, but we didn’t know that the highway was also closed south of Kaikoura due to the rain. After much debate (Gaye said she wouldn’t “chance it”), and checking New Zealand’s Transport Agency website (http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/) we decided to take the inland road to Kaikoura (it actually wasn’t that bad… such some construction, and segments where only a single lane of traffic was allowed through).
After breakfast, we went out to hand feed and pet the alpaca (they are super soft and fluffy!). Baby M enjoyed petting their heads. The alpaca looked pretty intelligent, compared to the sheep. (It’s something about their eyes… Alex and I thought the sheep all had eyes which looked… dead. It was actually kind of creepy.) The sheep, by comparison, were not as soft as the alpaca… in fact, their wool was stiff and matted! Next, we followed Pete and his dog (also called Pete… but human Pete made sure to let us know that Pete the dog was NOT a pet, but a working farm dog) into the fields. We watched in awe as Pete the dog ran laps around all the sheep and herded them into a barn.
Once in the barn, Pete picked one sheep to be sheared. Pete told us that back in his prime, he was able to shear something like one hundred sheep in an 8-hour shift (it may have been 200… I should have written this down!). He asked us to guess how much a kilogram of wool sold for in the market (and again, I can’t quite remember, but it was much lower than expected!!). After Pete sheared off a little wool, the wool was passed around. It was surprisingly oily! Yes, I (along with any breastfeeding mom, I’m sure!) have used Lansinoh lanolin cream before, but I never made the connection. Lanolin, also called wool grease, is secreted by a sheep’s glands, and it helps protect them from the cold/moisture (it’s waterproof!). After a few minutes, Pete had finished shearing the sheep.
Back at the house, Gaye showed us hand-knit products made from their own alpaca and sheep wool. (Yours truly purchased a cute knit alpaca wool hat.) They also sell all sorts of lanolin creams and moisturizers. We let Baby M play at the little playground (great for kids — swings, slide, and small trampoline) before loading up the car to drive (the less scenic route) to Kaikoura.
If you’re in the general Christchurch area, and want to have a “traditional” NZ experience, consider spending one night at Pete’s Farm Stay. The sheep shearing and sheep herding demos are included with your stay, as are hand feeding the animals and a hearty continental breakfast.
| Pete’s Farm Stay |
45 Mairaki Road, Fernside, Rangiora, 7471, New Zealand
To read more about our New Zealand trip: