How did we end up staying on a farm with the loveliest family? Way back, when we travelled through Bolivia, we met Julie Kane from New Zealand. She was on that same horror flight to Rurrenabaque at Bolivia’s Amazon basin, which took two attempts and two days to get us there.
After a few months, an eMail invited her Bolivian travel companions to visit her and / or to stay at her parents’ farm near Wanaka. There, we spent three very relaxing days with her wonderful parents Colin and Pam, who hosted us in their big, comfortable house and took us around the farm and on a trek to Bob Roy. We loved every minute of that stay, the cosy house, the great food, the amiable atmosphere and learning so much about farming sheep and deer!
The farm has been in Colin’s family for 5 generations and this very fact is commemorated by a plague outside the gate to their house “Grand View”. We learned that in former days there was a clear distinction between “Highland farmers” would consider themselves higher in the social ladder than “Lowland farmers”. We wondered if the sheep then were equally class conscious, especially with the Merino sheep in the highland producing such fine wool, whereas the lowland sheep produce wool to make carpets.
For us, the size of the farm was sheer enormous: 700 hectares, 3.500 breeding sheep and 250 breeding deer! That means of course as many lambs and as many young deer per year on top of that! These are dimensions almost unknown in Europe. All this, Colin is managing by himself, with only a few contractors once in a while.
Wanaka itself is a nice little town on a lake of the same name, a popular tourist destination. One day, we walked along the River Clutha. Seeing kayaks coming down the river, we truly regretted not having done the same ourselves. This is a very scenic ride, especially at this time of the year with the leaves turning golden and red. Apart from that, the river just moves fast enough that you do not have to paddle too hard but on the other hand is calm without rapids, just perfect for beginners as we are.
We also went on a trek to Rob Roy bravely starting out in the rain, but after more than an hour we quit, nevertheless enjoying the exercise we got from it.