Omarama, New Zealand November 10-11, 2007
Omarama became our only chance for a farm stay in New Zealand since time and opportunity to find a convenient farm were both running short. We could not have chosen a better time to stay at the Omarama Bus Station, which despite the name, is not a bus depot but an enormous 7000 acre working ranch.
Nestled in a lush green valley and surrounded by mountains, this facility has been a working ranch for three generations and supports nearly ten thousand sheep and thousands more cattle.
Entering the gates off the main road it is easily a half-mile drive to the main house which sits at the base of a mountain range looking out toward endless miles of stunning views. The lush fertile grass surrounding the estate looks like a neatly laid carpet strewn across thousands of acres around the house with sixty-foot pine trees lining the entire estate on all sides. Entering the house we are shocked to learn that the ‘hostel’ is more of a Bed & Breakfast layout with only a couple of double rooms. We check in to what would be a luxury $200 per night room in most places for about $34 USD per night.
The first evening I get the opportunity to participate in rounding up sheep to move to a new grazing area, something I have wanted to see in person for years.
I join the owner’s son on a 4×4 ATV and we head out into an area of about 750 acres with only one dog to round up thousands of sheep. I was expecting several ATV’s and at least three dogs. It was amazing to watch one dog work the entire flock with virtually no direction. She was so well trained that once the gate was opened, she ran to the back of the flock and systematically moved the sheep toward their destination in no time. All we did was ride around to contain the boundaries and watch the dog circle and chase the strays back into the group until all were moved to the next area.
That evening we were treated to a stellar sunset among the mountains and one of the most memorable skies we have ever seen.
By chance we caught a clear evening with no moon and no artificial lights so the night skies were alight with billions of stars. We spent an hour strolling the grounds after dark, tripping over rocks along the way because we couldn’t stop looking up. It is the sort of evening you may only experience a couple of times in a lifetime and one we will never forget.
Next day we day-tripped out to Mount Cook to shoot incredible pictures along the aqua blue lakes
and capture time-lapse video of the clouds spilling down the frozen mountainside.
We stopped for a few more pictures later that afternoon. Here’s a candid shot Heather took of me relaxing.
With the camera propped on the car, this is one of our favorites.
Returning late afternoon we stopped at a local salmon farm and purchased a large filet for dinner that had just come out of the holding pen. Back at the farm the sun was setting over the mountains, the sky changes to pink, an Israeli guest was chanting blank blank amid a gentle breeze and we are enjoying fresh salmon sashimi as a prelude to dinner.
There was a lamb on the farm whose mother had left it at birth. Heather decided to take it for a walk, but decided shortly thereafter that a sweet “Come here” only works on dogs as she chased the lamb around the property and through the house right passed the owner while he was sleeping on the sofa. The lamb let out a loud “Baaaaa”, but luckily the owner was so sound asleep, he never knew of the incident.
I decided it couldn’t be that hard to take a lamb for a walk, so I tried. Heather and I laughed soooo hard.
After a shower and a change of clothes it is the perfect setting to open our bottle of TeMata which we have been carrying since our wine tasting last month in Napier and saving for a special New Zealand evening. Private table for two on the front lawn?…Your table is now ready.