What to expect from an NZ farm
The sunny side of a life as a farmer
The life on a New Zealand dairy farm has two completely different sides – it can be stressful, you have to be able to dedicate your time, patience and every effort you can make into the work with animals. But it can also be beautiful especially in a country like New Zealand, with green paddocks that seem like they would never end, rivers floating between trees and enormous mountains that make you feel as small as a hobbit.
The stressful part of the work is obvious and belongs to a dairy farm just as well as to every other job. Different is that the animals can never be disregarded or ignored for they are everything you have as a farmer. Nevertheless, there are also aspects about the work that will make you consider spending the rest of your life far away from civilization. Imagine this: You are riding on a quadbike with your three dogs running beside you and you look up to see the sun setting between two gigantic mountains covered in millions of green trees and silver ferns. You ride through rivers, high grass or beneath big trees that are whistling in the wind. Being able to call this your (temporary) home is very enviable.
My personal experiences from the job on the farm were very good and I can only advice every traveler to take the possibility to earn knowledge of working in a different country. I had manage to get up at 5 am every morning to milk the cows for multiple hours, and sometimes do a little bit of casual farm work in the afternoon. As I mentioned earlier the contact with animals changes the nature of the job. You have to always think in advance of what is best for them and act you’re your own instinct if quick choices were necessary. This made me learn to take responsibility and to stay calm in difficult situations.
For obvious reasons most of the farms in New Zealand are far away from towns, which makes you enjoy the nature around you even more. Yet, it can get quite lonely and of course difficult when it comes to buying goods or organizing essential things like for example sending a parcel. To do so we alwys had to drive an hour into the city of Rotorua or Whakatane. The magnificent part about living far away from everybody else is that you are able to take in experiences like an incredible starry sky, a sunset or the view of birds flying through the air all by yourself and by that even more thoroughly than you’d think possible. Wherever you want to go, you can assume that you will not have to share it with other tourists, which is an important aspect in today’s world of travelling. But like with everything else, there is the downside of not meeting many fellow travelers or locals. It also takes time to get included into the community of a farming society where usually everybody knows each other and new faces are rare. Despite that, this doesn’t mean that you can make friends for life and experience the place in a different way – the local way.
The best possibility when it comes to meeting local people is in my opinion to join a sport club. Even if the sport does not attract you, it is an easy way to connect which is vital to a happy life in a different country. It also does not matter how much time you are going to spend in that certain community – take the chance to make new friends in the rugby club, or whatever it may be! That way you might also get tips on where to go and what to do and possibly some friends to join your activities.
If you have been to New Zealand before you will know why it is one of the most popular destinations in the world. The landscape is more than magnificent and you don’t have to travel all the way through the national parks of the country to experience this. The farm valley of Galatea, which was my home for four months while I worked to earn money for traveling, is enough to show you but a small part of the beauty of the country. A five minute drive takes you to 12 meter waterfalls between big cliffs of rock, a waterhole between enormous stones with water as clear as glass or a bush forest with silver ferns, trees wherever you look and birds wherever you listen. You are able to bath in world famous natural hot springs looking over big farms and forests. Close by rivers and big blue lakes invite you to swim in them especially when it gets warm during summer.
Important to point out is the unique flora and fauna of the country which is something you experience wherever you go. This can be as tree ferns, an incredible range of birds or flowers in nice red or orange colors. It is important to take your time in order to absorb every aspect of the nature. Taking walks through foreign tracks is a good way to do so. You will never fully understand the beauty of New Zealand if you rush through the north and south island in two weeks. You would be better off spending your time in limited places, but spending it thoroughly and open-minded. There is so much to see in that country, you could spend years in New Zealand and still haven’t seen everything there is.
I cannot point out more how much I enjoyed the time on my new home on the farm in New Zealand. I learnt so much about the nature, the animals, the landscape and many other things that I will never forget. The farm life can be very relaxed and easy going if you open your mind to it. It is astonishing to live in a self-sustaining environment especially in today’s world, where you can go to grab eggs off the chickens and get fresh and tasty milk every morning. Living away from cities is not for everybody but still something that makes you learn to live in a stress-free manner. Even though I saw a lot of the country, I will always remember New Zealand as my home on the farm.