Farm to Zoo – Part Two!
This morning we got a message from our host that the sheep had been rounded up and the shearing was beginning! We quickly finished our breakfast and headed up the hill, on foot this time, to see the process! We got to the top not too winded from the climb, the driveway to their house is the steepest part, the dirt road up to the paddocks is less steep and we can stop to catch the views, and our breath! The sheep were indeed in the pens, many had already been shorn and the shearer and his helper were busy!
I heard the shearer and Jack talking of ‘dog tucker’ which we learned from the “Footrot Flats” play is the euphemism for old sheep that have outlived their usefulness as farm animals, or rams that are not suitable as breeders, and can be used as dog food now! These ewes in the chute are the last to be shorn of Jack’s flock. The next process was to catch up the ram and his companion, a wethers (castrated male) to shear. We decided to head back down the hill to stay out of the way of the “circus” Jack said that roundup would be!
Since our Zealandia Dusk Tour ticket entitled us to a visit the next day, we wanted to take advantage of that. We drove down to Karori and re-entered the world of Zealandia. Once inside the fenced park we headed up to the outer paths, away from the general hubub and enjoyed a wonderful 4 mile hike through the forest.
We also heard a sweet birdsong, stopped and listened and then saw a unique bird, a tieke, or saddleback bird. A robin sized black bird with an orange ‘saddleback’ and bright red wattles at the corners of their beak! Not only one, but two! A pair? Or a parent and young? We don’t know. They were close to extinction at the end of the 20th century but are slowly recovering due to the predator trapping program and predator free sanctuaries like Zealandia!
We headed back down to the upper reservoir, then to the pathway past the tuatara research area.
We finished our daytime self-guided tour in the visitor center where we got head-exploding information about Zealandia and came away with this quote;