232 Days on the Road
Whenever most people picture New Zealand, they picture a land full of sheep (or a region of Australia, but we won’t talk about that). New Zealand is renowned for its sheep farms, but there’s another type of wool-producing farm in town. What’s more, these animals are far more cuddlier, cuter and quite frankly more hilarious than sheep: we’re talking about the alpacas. Today, we are delving into the world of the alpaca by visiting Akaroa’s Shamarra Alpacas.
To be honest, we know nothing about alpacas – zilch! But with an open mind and really not knowing what to expect, we head on over to the farm situated near French Farm. We drive up a steep gravel road, gaining height and getting a brand new vantage point of the Akaroa Harbour. Akaroa sits directly across the water from Shamarra Alpacas giving a super stunning backdrop of bright blue water and rolling green hills.
An introduction to the fascinating alpaca
We meet our tour guide, Frank, who has run the alpaca farm for more than 10 years along with his wife, Anya. In fact, Anya knows all the names of their 130+ alpacas! Woah!
Along with three other groups of people wanting to know more about alpacas, we gather in the farm store full of alpaca knitwear from hand-knitted toys to a huge variety of beanies. Here, Frank starts the alpaca farm tour by explaining the life of an alpaca, where they come from, and about their wool. He holds up a sample card of about 10+ different colours of alpaca wool and every single one of them is a natural colour! This makes alpaca knitwear some of the most natural you can get.
We also learn about the fascinating breeding process and why exactly do alpacas spit! Something we are about to see for ourselves…
Going nuts over wool!
Moving on into a small barn area with different fenced-off areas, we see a long stretch of two different sets of wool from two different alpacas. Here, we can feel the texture of the wool and how incredibly soft it is! It takes everything in us to not jump on the bench and start rolling in it.
The droopy lips of Rising Sun
Now, about that spitting… Frank takes us to one of the pens holding a male alpaca, Rising Sun. Rising Sun has a bit of a drooping bottom lip and is finding it frustratingly impossible to eat right now. Frank explains that alpacas’ lips droop after spitting, and this fella has been spitting at another male. Rising Sun is the star and father to a huge majority of alpaca here at Shamarra Alpacas. Anyone who dares take his place will get spat on!
Rising Sun is also very used to people petting him, making him the perfect example for Frank to explain how to approach alpacas if you want to pet them, because, yes, we are about to wander out into the grazing fields and join the alpacas!
Who is more interested? Us or the baby alpaca?
Laura makes friends with a lazy alpaca
We go out into the first paddock full of male alpaca. Anya places several food buckets on the floor and the alpacas come running! Taking into account what Frank had said about petting them, we go to stroke the long neck of the alpaca first. Robin is desperate to capture Laura stroking an alpaca on camera but none of them seem interested until one alpaca sat on the ground is too lazy to move. Got ya! The fleece is unbelievably soft and the only reason we can think for the alpaca to have a long neck is to cuddle them.
Getting closer to the alpacas, we realise how brilliantly unusual these animals look with trotters on top of padded feet, a camel-like face, and of course, that extended neck. But mixed with those big black eyes, they are undeniably cute.
Feeding time at the alpaca farm
Anya and Frank take us into the next paddock, giving us some feeding buckets for the female alpacas. Anya is telling us who is who in the lady alpaca group, along with some of their traits. At first, our bucket attracts a sassy alpaca that all the other girls are avoiding, but we eventually share the love with group of hungry alpacas.
The cheeky baby alpacas
The final paddock is one we are not mentally prepared for… Inside is a group of mother alpacas with their young – only 3-6 weeks’ old. The cuteness overload begins as we watch these little alpacas with their super soft and scrunched up faces. The babies are very inquisitive, putting their faces right up to our camera lenses wondering what the hell they are? They are not afraid to give us a sniff or go through our bags. It’s really awesome to watch.
Feeding the humans
Once we’ve finished playing with the baby alpacas (which, in all honesty, we were never going to be, watching them behave and enjoying the stunning views), tea, coffee and homemade Anzac biscuits are served back in the farm shop. We eat the biscuits with big smiles on our faces feeling kind of surprised at how much these farm animals had made us melt! We really learned something today: alpacas are awesome!
We’ve experienced a lot of animal and wildlife tours in New Zealand, but for a tangible experience and an overload of cuteness, alpaca farm tours are the way to go!
Our last night in Akaroa
Can you believe it is our last day in Akaroa? It really was the perfect place to keep us busy with awesome activities while we sorted out selling our old campervan and buying our new wheels. Join us tomorrow when we hit the road to Hanmer Springs!
Ok, ladies, who wants some food?! Theta 360 Loading...
Of course, you do! Take a look at these articles:
- 10 Things We Love About Akaroa
- Akaroa – Guide for Backpackers
- 11 Animals and Birds Unique to New Zealand
See you tomorrow!