Yesterday was jam packed. Come to think of it, yesterday for me is today for you. So that means that what I’m about to tell you happened, is actually happening as you’re reading it. I’m getting a headache thinking about that. Unfortunately, after bar hopping in Sydney and wine tasting in South Africa, I’m out of Ibuprofen. I’ll suffer.
So, yesterday was indeed jam packed. Upon the recommendation of the world’s best travel agent, Allyson [let me know if you want her number!], I joined a full-day tour of points south of Auckland. I took a ride on a boat through the Waitomo Caves as I gazed at glow worms. (By the way, apparently the acoustics in there are quite good so both Kenny Rogers and Glen Campbell have sung there – I’m no Kenny so I stayed quiet). I also smelled — and saw — a 50,000 year old geyser, and went on a tour of a farm. See what I mean by jam packed? However, it’s that last one that’s worthy of some explanation.
Sheep. If you know nothing else about New Zealand, it’s likely that you know there are a lot of sheep here. A lot. So, when you are known for something, it makes a lot of sense to find another way to turn it into a profitable tourist attraction. New Zealanders are great at this.
The trip took us to Rotorua, which is New Zealand’s version of Myrtle Beach, but on a lake. Kitschy things to do are exceeded only by the number of motel rooms. You can play mini golf, gaze at black swans, see a Kiwi Bird (which was wonderful and inspiring; it’s the size of a chicken), ride in a ball that rolls down a hill, the list truly goes on.
There’s also an exhibition farm. When you arrive, they rush you into a trailer attached to a tractor. Then they drive you around where you stare – in awe – at cows, sheep, and horses. These crazy New Zealanders can make money from anything. 350,000 people go through this every year.
Following the tour (in which a trailer-full of happy tourists snap pictures of chickens and ducks), we are shown a sheep herding dog and then led to a barn. The mystery built.
It was a sheep shearing show! Oh golly gee!
It’s not a stretch to say that the people who work on an exhibition farm with a sheep show love their sheep. At some point in my youth, my grandfather explained how sheep were sheared. Seeing a man do it live was altogether different. My grandfather also explained the process of castrating rams, which I am happy to report was not demonstrated during my visit.
Anyway, I’m about to board a flight to Queenstown. Which is too bad because the TV in the gate area is airing a series of infomercials. They sure do sell hard down here!