Whilst in New Zealand I have been lucky enough to have experiences that have only been possible because I have been in the right place with the right people at the right time. Working and living with hosts through the WWOOFing scheme has given me opportunities to do stuff I would never have done as a backpacker (as cheesy as it sounds it’s true).
First off I got to experience the gold rush era in Queenstown first hand. In the 1860’s gold, alongside other minerals including copper, was discovered in the Moke valley in around Ben Lomand mountain range. At its peak there was 3000 miners working in the valley and the gold rush contributed to the growth of Queenstown as a settlement. The last mine closed in the 1960’s but gold can still be found albeit in very small amounts.
Brent (my host) is a keen gold seeker and has professional equipment to extract the gold from the river and surroundings. He showed us the art of gold panning.
And I’m happy to report I was very successful and found a pure gold nugget!
You never know I may be able to pay for my plane ticket home with gold!
Secondly I had the chance to be an actual real life cowgirl (minus the rope, hat and spurs) mustering the young cattle for the farmer who’s land we ride on. The farmer had separated the young cattle from their mothers and need help driving them down the valley. This is where we stepped in on our trusty steeds.
It was so much fun but veryyyyy frustrating. The cows kept on spinning round and running back to their mums. Having never done it before and the instructions given by the farmer being “get these cows up the valley” it took some trial and error but we soon got the hang of it.
Teamwork was the key. And having a stick to poke the cows with.
And when one calf gets away you have to get it back asap otherwise it all goes to shit.
There’s no way I would of got to do this back in England, galloping after cows through rivers, up banks, over logs, down hills, amd weaving and dodging like no tomorrow. I will remember this long afternoon always (and so will my muscles – riding for over 6 hours!).