[OWG note: this is a guest post of Shannon Ullman over at livesabroad.com.]
New Zealand has a well worn tourist trail. Hoards of Lord of The Ring fans traverse the country looking for movie scenes and gangs of campervans are filled with backpackers gunning for the tourist sites. Underneath the Tongariro hikes and boat rides on Milford Sound, New Zealand has a quirky underbelly of little known attractions. Wanting a break from the typical tourist trail, I began to seek out unique experiences, especially centered around animals. Lucky for me, I stumbled upon what is possibly the most unique farm stay in the country, Warwickz Farm. Hosting 200 rare breed animals, including variations only found in New Zealand, this farm gave me the unique experience I was hoping for.
Warwickz Farm is the home of Elaine and Chris, two rare breed animal lovers and conservationists. Once just their home and hobby, this couple has since opened their property to the public. I knew it was special from the description on their website, but I had no idea how many stories and interesting facts I would get during the farm tour.
After helping us settle into our private barn, Chris took us around to visit the 200 animals, 40 breeds and 20 species that called the farm home. We fed bread to a “native” New Zealand pig that almost looked animatronic and got to pet the world’s rarest rabbit (the Enderby Island rabbit.) I’ve never seen a man so passionate about farm animals before and Chris continually impressed us with facts and stories from personal encounters. Some of the animals we encountered were:
- Kunekune pigs
- Miniature horses
- Angora goats
- Flock of colored sheep
- Arapawa sheep
- Gotland pelt sheep
- Netherland dwarf
- Mini Lop
- Flemish Giant
- Rex and Peruvian guinea pigs
- Fantail Pigeons
- Ring Necked Doves
- Guinea Fowl
In fact, it was the strange stories that made the farm tour really worthwhile and we listened carefully as Chris told us about the time he pulled an entire wool pelt straight off a sheep by mistake, the strange space rock found on the ground of the paddock and the mystery of a horse’s tail, expertly braided overnight. He told us about the major earthquakes that shook the farm and how certain animals escaped, met their maker and got along with unlikely friends.
Even more surprising than the space rock he let us hold was his story about the time that Peter Jackson’s prop crew stopped by Warwickz for some unique pelts and turkey feathers, later used as movie props during Lord of The Rings.
As if the experience couldn’t get any quirkier, Chris took us back to the barn to show off his crystal collection, the actual pelt that he pulled off of his sheep and some quilts made with an optical illusion in mind.
Many of the farm animals were ones I haven’t seen before and the stories were just as unique. To experience the New Zealand farm life and get to know the life story of a local so well seems to be just as rare as the animals on this farm.
Learn more about Shannon at livesabroad.com.
Like this post? Like the Facebook page!
Also published on Medium.