Day 10 – Akaroa (Christchurch)
Pohiri – (Maori Welcome)
I guess the earthquake or the cyclone has kicked up the waves and wind a bit and last night there was a possibility that we couldn’t stop here in Akaroa today because of the gale force winds. We have to use our life boats as tenders as there is no dock for cruise ships and at a certain wind speed the captain believes it is unsafe to use tenders.
Our first tour today is on our own and a trip to the alpaca farm. Right now the weather is beautiful. The captain did say this morning that if the winds kick up too badly he may have to leave us either on the dock until the winds subside or bus us to the next port. I hope neither of those things happens. So this could be a sporting day!
The alpaca farm owner picked us up at the pier after we were tendered to shore. As mentioned before, in New Zealand there is no flat land. Actually, the alpaca owner told us that there is a small patch of flat ground somewhere but not much. We took off on mostly gravel roads around cliffs and up and down hill and dale. I did have flash backs of the gear shift breaking loose from the shaft, but we made it. The vehicle did slip and slide a bit to tell you how steep the roads were.
We asked the owner how he got interested in alpacas. I guess they had raised cattle before but when they moved to NZ, they wanted to raise an animal you didn’t kill. They make money by selling the fleece of the alpaca. They also sell off some of the young ones around the world. They have sold animals to all of Europe and Australia. The luxurious soft warm fleece can be made into beautiful blanket, sweaters of all different fashions as well as scarfs and hats. Unfortunately, because this is summer they had a limited supply of these items to sell.
The photo of Tom and I and Sundowner, I think that was the alpaca’s name, is their prize breeding male. He is valued at $250,000. Okay I’m impressed. All the males are kept together and the females with their babies are in another field. When they breed the female and the chosen male are brought together, and of course they are very friendly. Seven days later the two are brought back together and if she is pregnant, he of course would like to be friendly, but she spits at him. I remember with horses, we spent a lot of money on vet fees finding out if the mare was with foal or not. Too bad the alpaca method didn’t work. Great tour.
Then on to the sheep farm. This was a ship’s tour but by now the wind was starting to pick up but we decided to go anyway. We did hear a story of one ship that had dropped off 700 people and had to leave them there overnight. The town’s people found sleeping arrangements for all, but the bus trip to the next port over the NZ roads could not have been fun. I guess all of the 600 Akaroa residents put people up for the night.
Back over the same gravelly roads to the sheep farm, but this took us to the other side of the island. The alpaca farm was on top of the mountain. By now the gale force winds were about blowing you over. Inside the shearing barn the wind was howling so fiercely that all we could really think about was were we going to get back on board tonight. Too bad, because it could have been pretty interesting. First he showed us all of the sheep that were going to be sheared the next day. The poor sheep were crowded into very small pens with no food or water. Some farmers tranquilize the sheep before they shear them and this farmer sort of starved and dehydrated them to the point that they were easy to handle. Cheaper way to handle the sheep. Sort of sad to see. I guess I couldn’t be a farmer. We then saw their dogs work the sheep. The pastures are huge, I can see why their dogs are very valuable.
Interesting trivia for all my dog friends! They use border collies mixed with greyhounds. They looked like our border collies with short hair. They mix them so they keep the work ethic and herding ability of the border collie but the speed of the greyhound. I wonder how that would work running agility?
Fortunately we were able to get back to the ship although the wind by now could blow you off the dock and the waves were really tossing the old tender around.
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” – Louis L’Amour
Haere ra (Goodbye)
More to Follow
Tom and Holly