The rest of my time spent at Orepuki was lovely. The farm lifestyle was a nice change of pace compared to the constant bouncing around I was doing previously while travelling. After only a couple of days, I felt like I was a part of the family. Elfi and Andrew were the best hosts and I enjoyed helping them around the farm a lot. The kids were sometimes a handful, but were a joy in their brighter moments.
Anna from the 3 day horse trek ended up staying the rest of the time I was there to help Elfi out as well. We quickly became life long friends. Anna had been travelling New Zealand for the last 8 months by herself. She worked at various jobs around New Zealand and slept in the back of her car when she was exploring the country. I have yet to meet such a mature 18-year-old. Her maturity amazes me, as myself at 18-years-old was a train wreck. I couldn’t even imagine going off on my own at that age.
Anna and I are so much alike; it’s a little weird sometimes: We have no fear when it comes to horses, adrenaline makes us really happy, we both were basically boys as children, eating is very important to us – especially when it comes to cake, we have a constant need to be doing something at all times, nature gets us so excited, that we sometimes jump up and down at the same time because we can’t contain ourselves, and the list goes on…
Out of all of the amazing places I have explored in New Zealand, I think that the Southland is my favorite place in New Zealand so far. I was reminded of it when I woke up every morning and looked out the window.
It is everything that I imaged New Zealand to be, with its green, green grass, rugged ocean, mountains in the distance, sheep everywhere, and a laid back lifestyle. It was interesting to think that I would be the farthest South I ever will be in my life.
I loved the epic weather patterns in the Southland, especially during the sunset. Every hour there would be a different view and I didn’t even have to leave the place I was at. Anna and I had some close calls getting stuck in unexpected storms a few times while we were out riding. It made for some good stories.
One of my favorite experiences was having a fire on the beach with Elfi, Anna, and the kids. Fires are always lovely, but fires while listening to the waves are a different story. I also loved watching the kids enjoy the fire.
My tasks varied from day to day, from caring and feeding the horses to helping to herd the sheep. Elfi had 8 horses on the farm and they were all happy and healthy. I fell in love with my noble steed from the 3-day-trek, Dodge, and he was my favorite to ride.
Helping to herd the sheep was definitely a new experience for me. When we passed fields of sheep in the car while we were travelling prior to my arrival at Orepuki, I would comment on how badly I wanted to touch the “little fluffy sheepies”. At Orepuki, I had my share of touching sheep, and a little more. I was extremely amused by their cuteness for the first hour or so that I was helping out, but it got old very quickly. To be honest, I can’t really describe in words how stupid they are. Cute? Yes. Smart? Not at all. Clean, white, and fluffy? Not really those either.
I have to say that my favorite thing about helping out with the sheep was working with Sue, the dog. I heard all about working farm dogs from my family who owned a farm in Oklahoma, but I never had experience working with them. I was amazed with how well trained and smart she was. She knew her job very well. At some moments, I was even learning from her!
When Anna and I weren’t working or riding, we were exploring the area. There are many different ways to travel: You can plan out an itinerary and stay at different places for a couple of days, improvise along the way, or pick one place and stay awhile. I have done all forms of travelling and each has their perks, but overall my favorite form of travelling is staying in one place for a while. You really get to explore the hidden gems of each place and truly experience them.
On our last day at Orepuki, Anna and I went to explore the beginning of the Hump Ridge Track. This was my favorite hike we did in the Southland. I loved the green rain forest and rugged beach. It was also extra special because it was one of our first outings after being previously cooped inside for a few days because of rain. We were extra energetic and excited to be outside.
I was so sad to leave Orepuki. It was such a positive experience for me. Goodbyes are always very hard, but I am starting to realize that there are always things to look forward to. If I ever find myself in the Southland again, I will be so excited to visit Elfi and the family. Luckily, Anna decided to join me on my next adventure at Kinloch lodge where I would meet Luca, so I didn’t have to say goodbye to her just yet.