All my alpaca dreams came true today.
In planning my vacation, I had plowed through every New Zealand article that Liz from Young Adventuress had written. I put Shamarra Alpaca Farm in my “VISIT FOR SURE” tab on my spreadsheet. I mean, look at her photo essay.
Yet, I guess I forgot all about it in my general awe of all things out here. I re-discovered it when I drove into Akaroa yesterday, and just happened to have time for alpacas. I mean, who doesn’t have time for alpacas?! I WILL HIKE TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO FIND ALL THE ALPACA FARMS.
Each tour lasts about an hour, and I had the luxury of a private tour (it was raining, and this is winter). I haven’t really spent that much money on any activities out here (especially when hiking these beautiful lands all costs $0), so I was a bit hesitant to go – but the tour is worth every dollar. Plus, think of it as donating your money toward a good cause – to upkeep an ethical farm that focuses on breeding alpacas for public adoration and cuddles. It’s because of this experience that I’m determined to work on an alpaca farm now.
Okay, and check out the views – do these fluffballs even comprehend how lucky they are to be living in one of the most beautiful countries ever?!
Alpacas originate from Peru, up in the mountainside, where temperatures are about -10 Celsius. One alpaca, Celeste, actually came from Peru and serves as the farm’s oldest alpaca – a whopping 21 yrs old. Other than moving a bit slower than the others, she’s in pretty good health – and you’d never tell that she’s the oldest out of the 160something alpacas on the farm. Most alpacas have a life span of 18-20 yrs. The smallest one, by comparison, was Babydoll – a mere month old. They’re quite large, though – by 3 months, they’re already bigger than an adult Golden Retriever (at least, this is my size comparison by eyeballing).
My guide let me cuddle a few – “Dominator” was the fluffiest, since he’s only allowed to be sheared every two years (his fur takes longer to grow back). The alpacas are sheared once a year in the summertime – and rightfully so, since their bodies are well insulated. Lydia (my guide) had me bury my hand deep into their fur and feel them – it was like a hot water bottle. Their bodies acclimate to colder climates, so the chilly 7 degrees Celsius rainy weather today was probably no prob for them.
I’m not sure how all the alpacas got their names (Lydia said the owners must have a long list), but some are hilarious – Rising Sun, Grumpy, Timmy, Aurora, Chicago.
They all have their own personalities – some are a bit shy, but if you find the right ones, they’ll pose for selfies.
Like llamas, they spit if they’re aggravated or territorial. I had the pleasure of getting a face full of the feed we gave them when one of the girls spit into my face as I was holding the dish out to them. She was going for the alpaca next to me, but I got the full blow of it instead. But how could anyone be mad at an alpaca? They’re ADORABLE. They even make little humming sounds – apparently it’s their way of communicating.
The girls are separated from the boys, since they’ll flirt too much if they’re grouped together (true story). The pregnant alpacas are also separate and were just feeding on hay and sitting the whole time – the best for photo ops.
The farm operates primarily to breed the alpacas and to use their fur for genuine alpaca fur products (the shop sells shawls, scarves, sweaters, and much more).
If you’re in Akaroa, definitely stop by Shamarra Alpaca Farm Tours. It was an absolutely incredible experience and such an amazing way to end my South Island vacation (I’m transitioning to the North Island in a few days).
Plus, you can drive through all this to get to Akaroa. Highly recommend everyone to visit this gorgeous little French village.
For more photos of the cuddlies, follow the farm on Instagram.
P.S. Llamas are cute as well. We fed a few llamas in Chile earlier in the year, but I have a special soft spot for alpacas now.