Sheep are a common sight in New Zealand, whether it’s in the fields lining your car route, in the distance scattering the hilltops, on the road adding a curveball to your journey or in the many New Zealand shops in the form of souvenirs.
I was looking forward to actually finding out about the way the sheep farms are run, and Mount Nicholas was to be the perfect insight into a traditional high country farm.We started our tour on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. The boat set off across the third biggest lake in New Zealand on a beautiful blue day, although the wind was high and I was soon glad I had tied my hair up.
Our skipper was 74 year old Steve who has been on boats in the area for many, many years and had an extensive knowledge about the surrounding mountains, vegetation and history. We cruised through Bob’s Cove on our way which is a beautiful hidden spot off of the road to Glenorchy from Queenstown.
When the boat pulled up at Mount Nicholas I was immediately in awe of the peaceful and stunning scenery. We were led by an awesome guide called Morris who was greeted excitedly by one of the farms dogs Belle. He had great command of Belle who showed off rounding up the sheep. As Belle was chasing the sheep, she was in turn being chased by the cows which caused much amusement for us!
Morris has a history in farming, which made him very easy to listen to and was more than willing to answer all of our questions.Amazingly, the farm is only run by a husband and wife along with 3 shepherds. They do the majority of their work solely on horseback and with the help of 20 dogs on site. Luckily for us we visited during shearing season, so we headed into the building to see them in action. Each sheep provides 4.5kg of wool and there are 28,000 sheep to be sheared in total. That’s a lot of wool!
After that we headed out further into the farm on a 4 wheel drive trip. We barely touched the total area of the farm at 40,000 hectares. The views down the lake to Mount Earnslaw were quite incredible and we all jumped out for a great photo opportunity.
Before heading back to Queenstown on the boat we had some food and hot chocolates. I also couldn’t resist a quick go on the virtual sheep shearing game, where I made 16 pairs of socks! Next time I am on the road gazing out of the window at all the sheep, or in a shop that is selling Merino wool products I will do so with a new found understanding for the work that goes into farming.