Are you looking for something different, educational, and entertaining for adults and children while visiting New Zealand?
On New Zealand’s North Island lies a gem of a tourist attraction–Agrodome–which is a “unique New Zealand farm experience”. We first enjoyed their hour-long “Farm Show” that introduced 19 breeds of sheep on its large stage.
Seeing the sheep all lined up and labeled onstage was quite the sight! Above the stage was a large projector screen that showed close-ups of the presenter’s demonstration for better viewing.
With all of the sheep labeled and seemingly content to relax at their posts, we enjoyed a laugh-filled sheep-shearing performance/presentation by this fellow:
He may have had one of the thickest Kiwi accents I’ve ever heard–and despite me not following half of what he said–he definitely had the room roaring on many occasions.
He aptly demonstrated a live speedy sheep-shearing, resulting in a nearly complete, in-tact sheep fleece!
He passed around a portion of of the fleece, which smelled absolutely horrid, and had the tourists passing it fast! Not the cleanest animals on the planet…
Sheep weren’t the only highlight of the show–there were also ducks, a cow, sheepdog, and lambs! Baby lambs were fed by audience volunteers, which was super adorable.
We were sitting near the front, which made us prime targets for being selected for audience participation. Ethan was chosen and refused to go up, but thankfully Ella didn’t hesitate long before taking his place. She got to go milk the cow, and received a certificate for her efforts:
After the show, the audience was invited to the stage to take photos, pet sheep, etc.
Next, we jumped on trailer of the Agrodome Farm Tour, which was pulled by a tractor:
The tour was full of interesting information about New Zealand agriculture, and included a scenic drive through their 350-acre working farm. Eli just loved it!
The best parts were the many stops to feed/pet the various farm animals. Our children (ages 2 through 10) had a blast, but the excitement wasn’t just limited to just kids!
I particularly enjoyed watching the Chinese tourists taking photos with the animals and (literally) squealing with delight (and maybe a touch of excited terror?) as they approached animals for the first time in their lives, perhaps! You should have heard the nervous squeal on this tourist before taking her peace-sign photo as the sheep came near:
As of summer 2015 statistics taken, there are about 4.6 million residents in New Zealand, and about 30 million sheep! That’s 6.5 sheep for every resident! Whoa!
The tour continued, and the opportunity to feed llamas was particularly popular…
And we had an up-close encounter with the deer (these aren’t wild, folks)!
Apparently, deer were introduced in the 19th century for sport. By the early 20th century, the deer were spreading and becoming a nuisance–damaging pastures and killing native plans. The government encouraged culling, and even hired hunters to help decrease the deer population. “In the 1970s people began catching live wild deer. They leapt from helicopters and grabbed the animals, tranquillised them with dart guns, or used a net gun, which fired a nylon net over the deer. These live animals were sent to deer farms. Deer farming began in the late 1960s. Today there are more than 1.7 million deer on New Zealand farms. Deer are farmed for venison, and for the velvet from their antlers.” (source)
Who knew, right?!
Apparently the wildlife wasn’t the only attraction on the tour. Baby Dawson, with his red hair, was quite the show-stopper! He will now be immortalized in random tourists’ photo albums that they’ll show to their families at home.
When an Indian couple asked if they could take a photo with him, I happily obliged. I was laughing to myself when about 20 photos later they didn’t look like they wanted to hand him back! A young Croatian woman patiently waited for her turn next, and as you can see from the above photo, there were many additional unauthorized photos taken!
Back to the tour…
We stopped to taste some freshly harvested honey (yum!) and kiwi juice, and we drove past rows and rows of kiwi plants…
Kiwi plants are either male or female, and there must be at least one male for every 8 female plants. I loved the description of male plants that I found online “Males are really only useful for one thing and that is making lots and lots of pollen, hence, they are heavy producers of pollen that is attractive to pollinators which carry it off to nearby female kiwi vines. Because the male kiwi vines do not bear fruit, they put all of their energy into vine growth and are, thus, often more vigorous and larger than their female counterparts.” Hmmm…I can see the similarities…
All in all, I thought the show and tour were fun excursions that gave us a true taste of the agricultural side of New Zealand! We’re fortunate enough to live in an area where deer practically reside in our backyard, and we can see llamas from our front window. However, I realize that most people are not fortunate enough to regularly experience farm animal encounters–and it was really fun to watch their reactions to the tour, as well as our children’s smiles. Everyone had a great time–and I felt it was an educational, as well as entertaining experience which helped us better appreciate the significance of the agricultural industry in New Zealand. After all, agriculture is still THE primary industry in New Zealand–followed by tourism, of course.