I love alpacas, with their long necks and goofy faces and soft fur, so when planning our shore excursions for our New Zealand cruise, I was super-excited to discover that we could visit an actual alpaca farm in Akaroa!
The Shamarra Alpaca Farm is a 25-30 minute scenic drive from Akaroa. They offer a pick-up service for cruise passengers so at 11:30am we met Frank, who owns the farm along with his wife, at the Main Wharf in Akaroa. We boarded a small vehicle that transported 6 of us (Marcus, his parents and I, plus 2 others from the cruise ship) to the alpaca farm. Along the way everyone conversed with Frank who was happy to share information about the area and the alpaca farm.
Before the tour, our guide gave us an informative introduction to alpacas and an overview of what they do at the farm. We got to touch some of the wool that had been shorn from their alpacas (shown on the table below) that was ready to be processed into yarn for knitting and other handicrafts. In the stable we got to meet one of their friendliest alpacas (12-year old Rising Sun, shown below with my mother-in-law Lyn). Our tour guide instructed us on how to approach the alpacas and how to interact with them safely in a way that would be pleasant for both human and alpaca. For example, we were told never approach an alpaca from behind because if startled they can kick, and that you should touch them on the neck rather than pat them on the head.
After the intro, our guide led us outside into the paddocks where the alpacas spend their days grazing and enjoying the view. The alpacas are divided into several fields scattered across the farm property. We visited two fields, with the females and babies in one field and the males in the other field. We visited the females and babies first as another tour, led in Chinese, visited the field full of males.
The alpacas enjoy quite stunning views in all directions from their high hilltop perch. In the pic above you can see Akaroa Harbour in the background and the hills of Banks Peninsula beyond.
To kick things off we were given bright red bowls filled with grass so we could feed the alpacas. I can’t remember if there’s something special about that grass but they really liked it and flocked around us as we held the bowls.
In the pic above I love the expression of the alpaca on the right. She looks like she’s quite enjoying the tasty treat!
In the pic above it’s the alpaca on the left that makes me smile with her goofy chewing expression!
After the alpacas had their fill we were free to walk around and intermingle with them. Some would approach us curiously while others, especially the young ones, trotted out of the way if we came near.
Above is one of the young alpacas.
The whole time we marveled at how beautiful it was!
It’s the kind of scenery you could never get tired of…
After spending some time with the females, which switched paddocks with the other tour group and visited the males.
A bunch of the males wandered off into a ravine (below) but a few were contentedly sitting around and allowed us to hang out with them.
The white one was especially chill and we were delighted to spend so much time with him, gazing off into the distance and contemplating existence.
The farm has around 200 alpacas which they breed for their wool, which is very soft and fine compared to sheep’s wool (even softer than merino wool).
At the farm they have alpacas in all different colors from white to black and all shades of brown. We were surprised to learn that a baby alpaca can be any color - it doesn’t matter what color the parents are, so they never know what color the baby will be until it pops out of the mama. How cool!
While visiting the male alpacas we spent most of our time with the brown one shown above and the white one shown below.
The Shamarra Alpaca Farm tours are typically offered at 4 set times per day and are offered in both English and Chinese. If you’re visiting from a cruise ship and you need transportation, they offer a pick-up service right at the Main Wharf that picks you up at 11:30am and returns you to town at 1:30pm. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the alpacas and the stunning scenery.
After visiting with the male alpacas, we headed back to the main building where we enjoyed a sip of cordial and a few ANZAC cookies (biscuits). They also had a gift shop filled with beautiful scarves, hats, mittens and other items made from their very own alpacas’ wool.
We all agreed that visiting the alpaca farm was an awesome experience and we were so thrilled to have had such an up-close encounter with the alpacas.
The Shamarra Alpaca Farm wasn’t listed amongst any of the cruise ship’s official excursions, which in my opinion made it even more fun, because we were part of a small group of only 6 people. Plus, the money we paid for the tour went straight to the farm, rather than the cruise ship taking a large cut, so we were happy about that.
We booked our tour online directly from their website and they picked us up right from the Main Wharf where the tender dropped us off (since Akaroa is a small port, the cruise ship anchored in Akaroa Harbour and we had to ride in tenders - basically the ship’s life boats - to the Main Wharf). On the way back into Akaroa, Frank was happy to drop us off near the Akaroa Recreation Ground rather than the Main Wharf (which is their default drop-off location).
I couldn’t resist having a little fun editing the alpaca photo above in a sparkly glam/boho style! 😄
This was the 2nd time Marcus and I visited Akaroa - our first being a weeklong visit 8 years ago. During that visit we drove all around the Banks Peninsula which was thrilling due to all the gorgeous scenery in every direction. The pic above was taken during that trip and although it’s not on the same route, it gives you an idea of some of the scenery you’ll see on the drive from Akaroa to the Shamarra Alpaca Farm.
After being dropped off in Akaroa we wandered around the tiny town and enjoyed the beautiful day.
The water is such a gorgeous sparkling turquoise.
Although it was chilly up on the alpaca farm, it was warm down in the town, so off came the hats and jackets as we basked in the sunshine.
After a few hours and a bite to eat, we wandered back to the Main Wharf and boarded the next tender back to the Golden Princess.
Below is the view from the top of the tender as we bid adieu to Akaroa and started looking forward to our next adventure!
Thanks for reading! In my next blog post I’ll tell you all about our whimsical trip to Hobbiton!