Monday, February 14, 2011

New Zealand - Walter Peak

Sunday, February 13, 2011

As part of our itinerary in Queenstown, the optional excursion was a trip to Walter Peak, a sheep station across the lake.  We took a steamship to chug across the water and get to Walter Peak.  As always, the view was magnificent - that's Walter Peak below.  That's as close up as my camera could zoom from the boat but it's far more majestic in person than any picture can capture.

On the boat ride, I met a couple from England who had been traveling in New Zealand for a month in a camper and were going wherever their fancy took them.  They loved traveling and it was fun talking with them.  They were retired and seemingly had been all over the world.  One of the fun aspects of this trip for me is the number of travelers I'd met, both on my own tour and outside of it, who had been to so many places and loved seeing them all.  Most, if not all, of them were couples who had been  together for some time and that was a wonderful affirmation for me that many relationships and marriages really do last.  It's not something the media ever talks about, dwelling instead of high divorce rates, but many of the couples I met on this trip had been married for decades, not just years.  And they hadn't just been married for forever but they also loved  traveling together.  It was wonderful to see their sheer enjoyment of life and the world.

One we reached Walter Peak, we herded into the building where they served us a buffet dinner.  First course was a creamy vegetable soup which even I could eat since everything was pureed, lol.  Then each table was tapped in an orderly fashion to line up for the buffet where they had fish, salmon, roast beef, lamb, chicken, potatoes, vegetables and later on, dessert, fruit and cheese and crackers.  Overall, it was a pretty nice spread.

After dinner, we all went outside for the sheep shearing demonstration.  Our demonstrator, Lindsay, was just hilarious.  First he did the demo of how his sheep dog herded the sheep and then he sheared an actual sheep.  I took videos of both and tried to post them but blogger isn't letting me upload so I'll have to try again later.  Regardless, the sheepherding was impressive as the dog doesn't bark since that scares the sheep and you don't want to startle or scare sheep who are grazing on the side of a hill.  But he still herds them quite efficiently.  The sheep also move as one when they're being herded.  It was almost cartoonish how synchronized they were in moving as a bunch.

The sheep shearing itself was very expertly done.  Lindsay used something like the sheep's version of a razor or shaver and once he sat the sheep down, it didn't struggle or even bleat.  During his whole humorous spiel, Lindsay expertly sheared the sheep in a matter of a couple of minutes.  I was surprised how much wool actually came off the sheep.  Seemed like a lot to my untrained eye.  Sheep shearing always reminds me of Little House on the Prairie and the book "Farmer Boy" since there's a chapter on Almanzo helping during shearing time.  Back then they used manual shears and I can only imagine how much more difficult that would've been.

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