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Published: April 9th 2018
Tom sending his dog out to fetch the sheep.
Napier, New Zealand, April 7 ,2018 – Weather forecast: sunny with scattered clouds; temperature 22°C, wind 23kts (6 Beaufort)
Today we went out to Clifton Station, one of New Zealand’s many sheep stations. The human population of NZ is approximately 4.5 million while the sheep population is over 25 million; down from the 60 million that lived in NZ just a decade ago.
At the station we were entertained by the station owner along with his two sheep dogs expertly handling a flock of sheep. With simple hand signals and whistling from Tom the dogs moved the sheep from a distant area of the paddock and into the shearing barn. There a professional sheep shearer expertly handled a sheep and remove its year’s worth of wool, while one of the staff provided colour commentary. The average fleece weighs in at around 4.5 to 5 kilos.
The fleece is gathered into bales of 300 kilos and sent off to auction. The market for wool has slumped in recent years with the currently shorn fleece selling for 2.80 (NZ dollar) per kilo. Currently the station owners make more from
Sheep entering paddock.
the lambs and mutton they sell for meat.
After leaving the station we had a tea/coffee and scone break and then were driven up a switchback road to the summit of Te Mata Peak for a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding territory. The switchback road was so tight that the bus was required to have an escort rider on a motorcycle lead us up the mountain to warn vehicles coming down the mountain to pull over, where there was space, so that we could pass. In one location our driver also had to use the hydraulic lifting capabilities to raise the bus’s body so that it would not scrape as it negotiated a very tight corner. We were rewarded at the top with a spectacular view and it was well worth the climb.
Back down in the valley we stopped at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre for a taste testing of a variety of local honeys and their famous ice cream. At the centre they had observation panels that looked into a number of active hives so that we could watch the bees go about their daily activities. In each hive they have
Herding the sheep
placed a coloured dot on the back of the queen bee for easy identification.
On our drive back to the ship we journeyed through a portion of the town where, following an earthquake in 1931, the city was rebuilt in the striking style of Art Deco. The city planners repurposed the rubble from the building demolished by that earthquake into gardens and recreational areas along the eastern shores of the town.
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