When Luca was traveling to New Zealand, he sat next to a New Zealander named Braydon on his flight. Braydon and him hit it off instantly and Braydon invited Luca and I to stay with him and his family during our travels.
Braydon was staying with his parents while he was home from University for the summer holiday. They owned a dairy (and a little bit of beef) farm in the Tararua Range and raised award-winning Holstein and Friesian cows. Some of the cows won “Best of New Zealand” awards, which is impressive because New Zealand has become recognized around the world for its dairy. One of Braydon’s cows was actually featured in the first scene of the first “The Hobbit” series.
(Their cow is featured at 0:07 seconds)
When we first arrived to the farm, Braydon gave us a grand tour and we learned heaps of extremely interesting things about cows and dairy farming. What really impressed me was how much the family cared for the well being of the cows. A lot of the cows had names and some of them were friendly enough for you to go up and pet. Braydon explained to us why the area was perfect for farming, as it had a temperate climate and fertile soil for growing grass. He was understandably proud of the well-bred cows that the family owned and was excited to show them to Luca and I.
Braydon’s parents, Hazel and Derron, cooked us a delicious dinner with home-raised cuts of steak, meat patties, and ribs. It was ridiculously good. The last time I had beef that good was on my family’s farm in Oklahoma when my great grandmother cooked me the best steak of my life. For dessert we had a bread pudding made with raspberries from the garden.
It really made my heart flutter when Hazel told us how excited she was when Braydon told her that Luca and I were going to stop by for a night. She was thrilled to show us New Zealand hospitality and her beloved cows, and learn about the “rest of the world” from us. She was particularly excited when Luca informed her that his mother worked for the United Nations. All her life, she had watched TV shows about the United Nations, but never met somebody even affiliated with the organization.
I have been continually amazed with the hospitality of New Zealanders. It is something I want to take with me for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to give back to the world by offering the same type of hospitality when I someday have my own house in an awesome place.
New Zealand Cheese
Before leaving Braydon’s town, we stopped at a local cheesemaker called Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese, owned by Biddy Fraser-Davies. Biddy owns four Jersey dairy cows and produces only a small amount of the same type of cheese. The cheese was FANTASTIC! She only had two types of cheeses available and they were named after the cows that the cheeses came from. The cheeses were cheddar-like with a nutty flavor and crunchy consistency. She told us, “It’s quite simple. You just need high quality milk and it all comes together from there.”
We talked about cheese making after we tried the cheese. Apparently small New Zealand cheese makers are facing the same regulation problems that America has. Big cheese-making companies control most of the industry regulations, making it a hard environment for small cheese makers to succeed. “The factories that do all sorts of things to milk need to be regulated because they probably aren’t safe,” Biddy said, “A small cheese maker like me is quite safe and doesn’t need regulations such as these.”