Favorite photos..Leaving for Auckland tomorrow morning at 10:00 am…

This cria who’s birth we were able to attend when we first arrived on the farm was born only 30 minutes earlier. 

Normally, a five-hour drive to get to an airport would be too long in our perspective. But, New Zealand is so beautiful, we have no qualms about the long drive, especially when we’re leaving early enough we won’t feel rushed. 

When we first arrived and the flowers were still blooming, we particularly loved this photo of Mount Taranaki.

On this return trip to the airport in Auckland, we won’t feel compelled to stop to take photos when we’ll have completed all of our NZ photos unless, of course, we see an irresistible sight.

A one-day-old cria nursing.

Upon arrival in Auckland, we’ll make our way to the car rental facility, drop off the vehicle taking their free shuttle to the airport. Our flight isn’t until 5:55 pm.

Our favorite neighborhood cow who’d walked up to the fence to see us when we were on a walk.

We’ve finished most of the packing except for the clothes we’re wearing today and the few toiletries we’ll use through tomorrow morning. Staying overnight in Sydney, we’ll both will wear the same clothes tomorrow and again on the day, we board the cruise, only changing underwear. 

This photo made us laugh over and over especially with the shorter alpacas ears down and other alpaca’s ears at full attention. 

Spending two weeks on a ship with limited wardrobes along with the cost of having laundry done by the ship’s laundry service (necessary mid-cruise) getting two sets of clothing dirty before we even board the cruise makes no sense. If we spill on ourselves, we’ll haul something clean out of a suitcase.  

Grapes growing at the OkurkuruWinery which we visited on two occasions.

Once on the cruise, we have enough to wear to avoid frequent repeats. Jeans and khakis are allowed in the main dining room except on dress-up nights. Shorts and nice tee shirts are acceptable everywhere on the ship during the day.

This peculiar occurrence, never observed by Trish and Neil, had us ready to go into the paddock to help these two tangled alpacas.  The larger alpaca wasn’t too happy with this situation. Fortunately, they managed to break apart.  Once we knew they were OK, we couldn’t stop laughing. 

We weighed our bags moving items around to reduce the baggage fees we’ll pay later today for the third checked bag. It’s tricky weighing the bags on our stand-on travel scale. Tom weighs himself first and then weighs himself again holding the bag. 

We visited the Taranaki Cathedral Church of St. Mary in downtown New Plymouth on its last open day when it was closing permanently due to earthquake instability.

The only way we could weigh the bags is in the upstairs bathroom with a solid surface floor with the remaining floors carpeted. Once Tom lifted the large bags he barely had room to stand on the scale and not bump into something. 

This photo, taken through the glass in the kitchen window, was the first of many times she peered inside watching me prepare dinner. Love this!

It all worked out when both of our larger bags weighed under the allowance of 30 kg, 66 pounds. The remaining third bag, based on our reshuffling everything should weigh under 20 kg, 44 pounds, resulting in fees of NZ $522, US $362. It’s frustrating to have to pay so much for the extra bag but as hard as we try we can’t dispose of one more item in our possession. 

Tom at Taylor Dental in New Plymouth on the day he had his abscessed tooth pulled a painless and inexpensive experience at NZ $170, US $115.

Today, when all is done, including both today’s and tomorrow’s post, we’ll spend time with the alpacas, hand-feeding those interested and laughing over the playful antics of the youngsters. 

There are countless creeks and streams in New Zealand.  We’d hope for sunny day photos but many times when we went out for the day it started sunny and clouded over within the first hour.

It’s not easy leaving here. We have many memories we’ll carry with us, some of which we’re sharing in today’s and tomorrow’s post as our favorite photos. Tomorrow, we’ll share the expenses for our 87 days in New Zealand.

We visited Plas Mawr, a historic architecturally interesting home by invitation of its owner June, whom we met while grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, the Internet signal here doesn’t allow the posting of as many photos as we’d have preferred and, with the many photos we took while here it was difficult to pick and choose favorites. Many others were left behind that our less frequent readers may have missed and possibly enjoyed.

When Trish and Neil went on holiday, we watched over the birth of two crias, an extraordinary experience for both of us.

Feel free to go through the archives on the right side of our daily homepage to see any posts you may have missed for this location or any other locations, all the way back to 2012 when we first began posting. To access each year, month or day, click on the little black triangle to open that period of time.

The front dining room at the Table Restaurant where we dined on Valentine’s Day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with the final expenses and a heartfelt goodbye to this special location and superior experience.

Beautiful flowers when we visited the Pukekura Botanical Garden near the mountain.

May your day bring you a superior experience as well!

Photo from one year ago today, April 14, 2015:

Sunset in Kauai, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

In this part of the world…

Tom took all of these sunset photos last night, as the views changed in a matter of seconds. 

It started out as a dark and gloomy day, at 7:00 am this Easter Sunday in the South Pacific. Low lying clouds shrouded views of the mountains. If we looked hard, we were able to see the ocean through the mist. Now, as we approach 10:30 am, the sun is out and the mist has cleared.

Peering out the windows we can see some of the nearby alpacas although many are now at distant paddocks requiring that we walk quite a way to visit. Today, as yesterday, we’ll walk over a few times, again checking on Delilah and Mont Blanc. 

We can’t actually see the sun at sunset due to the mountains, but the sky delivers.

The magpies are loudly singing their wide variety of songs as always. They are one of a few bird species in the immediate area (they scare off other birds), flying in pairs as they dash through the trees occasionally alighting on the patio or deck for our easy perusal, never quite long enough for a photo of their distinct black and white plumage.

With no big plans for today, we’ll stay in. This is our fourth Easter away from family and of course, we miss them, the festivities, the laughter and the noise of playful activities. How could we not? 

These views aren’t over the ocean.

But, we’re content, at ease in our decisions, at home in any environment, at peace in having chosen this life on the move. In a mere three weeks from today, we’ll be boarding Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas for a 14 night cruise, having flown from Auckland the previous day for an overnight in Sydney.

Its funny how some venues refer to 14 nights or…14 days. Often I refer to days/nights spent in various locations as “days” as opposed to “nights.” For us, the “days” seem most significant, the nights mostly spent in relaxation and slumber. 

Quickly darkness fall and the views dissipate.

On cruises, we stay up later at night thoroughly embracing the evening’s socialization. Then again, the days are rather enjoyable when we often find ourselves spending entire days in the company of other cruise passengers or languishing in our favorite ways to spend days aboard ship on our own.

For today, there’s no special meal. Tom’s meal will include well seasoned baby back ribs (no sauce) and I’ll have grilled yellow fin tuna. We’ll both have a variety of low carb friendly side dishes. 

Taking photos of the two pink cockatoos through the narrow chain link fence is tricky.  This unedited photo illustrates the tightness of the fence. 

After busying myself in the kitchen after today’s post, we’ll take the walk to check on the animals, visit the pink cockatoos who get excited and noisy when they see us coming, and walk to the neighboring property to say hello to our favorite local cows, bulls and sheep.

Later in the day, if it stay sunny, we’ll sit on the deck to toast a glass of New Zealand white wine, a pleasant Pinot Gris we picked up at the grocery store.

The lily pond continues to bloom pretty flowers

Ah, had we been farmers in our old lives how we would have appreciated being able to revel in the beauty and simplicity of farm life without the work. Instead, we’ve been gifted during this exquisite three month period with the unique opportunity to experience just that…an ideal farm life free from responsibilities. 

How fortunate we feel, even as the time quickly winds down toward leaving. We’re preparing ourselves for the upcoming busy next many months with our usual enthusiasm and joy. Life is good. May yours be as well.
Happy Easter to celebrants in this part of the world and tomorrow, for others.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2015:

One year ago, the colors in this scene at the Princeville Ranch took our breath away.  For more details and photos, please click here.

Worried about Mont Blanc…Delilah…Watching over the alpacas this week…

Little Mont Blanc, dirty from days of rain, still small and fragile.

With Trish and Neil gone for Easter until next Wednesday, we’re keeping an eye out on the alpacas. Their friend Barb is stopping by each day to give them their daily vitamin feed which is placed in dozens of colorful bowls at the edges of the various paddocks.

Mont Blanc’s mom, Giselle’s half-hearted grin.

We don’t have much to do other than to check on pregnant mom, Delilah, who’s due to deliver at any time. Her photo is shown below.

Much to our heavy hearts young Mont Blanc isn’t doing well. He’s now in a separate paddock with his mom and another mom that is also not doing well. Her cria, Latle is also in the paddock.

Latle, the healthy fast-growing youngster with Giselle, Mont Blanc’s mom, in the background.

On Wednesday the vet came to examine Mont Blanc and determined he’s having some type of digestive disorder preventing him from growing and thriving. 

A few weeks ago when we alerted Trish and Neil that Mont Blanc didn’t seem to be nursing or pecking at the grass and appeared tiny and skinny compared to the other fast-growing cria of similar age, they separated him and his mother to another paddock. 

Mont Blanc is much smaller than one month older Latle.

During that period, we’d spotted another cria nursing from Mont Blanc’s mom, leaving less for him. We sent Trish a photo showing the two babies attempting to nurse simultaneously, which proved to be an oddity. Less than a week ago we posted the story with photos as shown here.

Latle is 29 days older than Mont Blanc and is growing well.

At first, once separated from the others, he gained weight and was seeming to improve. Then, a few days ago he began to take a turn for the worse, losing the weight he’d gained, prompting Trish and Neil to call the vet to determine what was wrong. The diagnosis of a digestive disorder left them uncertain as to his fate.

As for Delilah, the only remaining pregnant mom due to give birth this year, she’s yet to deliver her cria.  We’ve been watching her progress daily but see no signs of impending birth. In Trish and Neil’s absence we’ll keep a close watch to ensure all goes well should she soon deliver. She seems fine, is eating well. 

Mont Blanc does appear to munch on a bit of vegetation.

Delilah, pregnant and soon due to deliver, is one of the largest alpacas.  She is a less common rich dark brown. Delilah appears to be the leader of her herd, always at the peak of alertness for any possible intruders.  She’s become used to us visiting the paddock and expresses no concern when we come by.

Yesterday, we walked the distance to the paddock close to their house where Mont Blanc and his mom are located. We made our way over the fence to get inside the paddock and gingerly approached. They didn’t move away as they were unconcerned by our presence having been around us for over two months. Their means of communication, a tender little hum, was escalated by our presence.

Delilah, the last of the pregnant moms yet to deliver this season.

The other youngster in the paddock with his ailing mom is four weeks older than Mont Blanc but was easily triple his size. This is worrisome. We can only hope that somehow Mont Blanc survives this condition and soon begins to grow. He seems alert and active.

After checking on Delilah with no obvious evidence of impending birth we headed back home, planning to stay home over the next few rainy days checking on them several times each day.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2015:

One year ago, we met with Curly, owner of the Princeville Ranch, at the entrance that adventure seekers use for the myriad activities offered on the ranch.  He took us on a tour of the vast property in his 4X4 vehicle which was quite an adventure in itself. For more details, please click here.

Windy days and night…Coldest we’ve been in awhile…

Only a few pregnant moms remain in the paddock that will give birth this season. Many more are pregnant for next season. This most recent birth occurred in this past week. In this photo, the cria is less than one day old.

This is unusual for us…being cold. My hands are frozen. With no warm clothing with us, this morning I’m wearing spandex Capri-length workout pants, a tee-shirt, socks, and Tom’s zippered hoodie.

The temperature this morning is 10C, 51F. With the wind blowing fiercely for the past 36 hours, we’ve wondered how the alpacas are staying out of the wind since we can’t see them easily from our house especially with them huddled in a low spot in a distant paddock.

We haven’t wanted to venture out in this wind especially after one of the clothesline broke after I hung a few towels yesterday morning, leaving an entire row of fresh laundry on the grass. Foolish me. We brought everything inside hanging them over the glass shower stalls in each of the two bathrooms.

We giggled when we thought we saw the name of the newest cria. Look at the photo below for the name! 

We’d hope to go out sightseeing yesterday or today, but the high winds make it less enjoyable, especially when getting out and back into the car to take photos.  Surely, there will be better days down the road. The cool air is tolerable, but the wind is annoying.

There’s no doubt, many of our readers who live in frigid climates are laughing at our intolerance for the coolness. But, we’ve been in mostly tropical and arid climates over the past 41 months, only wearing our jackets on rainy days, rarely feeling cool enough to “bundle up.”

Our goals have been to “follow the sun” as much as possible. The last time we felt this cold was in Iceland in September 2014 when we went out on a cool, very rainy day for a 4 x 4 rough road tour in this vehicle below.

This was the 4 X 4 vehicle we used on the off-road tour of Iceland. Excuse the black lines on the edges of the photo.  It was raining so hard the automatic lens cover got wet and wouldn’t fully open.

It wasn’t the experience we’d hoped for due to the rain, although, overall, we got the gist of life in Iceland. Click here for the link to Part 1 of that adventure. It’s no wonder we go through cameras in no time at all!

There’s a gas fireplace in this house here in NZ but we try to be considerate as to the cost of utilities when we’re renting homes. We’ll only use it if the temps continue to drop during our upcoming remaining days.

Although generally, it doesn’t snow in New Plymouth, it can be cold during the winter months, as shown on the two charts below, one each for Celsius and Fahrenheit:
Average min and max temperatures in New Plymouth, New Zealand Copyright © 2015 www.weather-and-climate.com
Average min and max temperatures in New Plymouth, New Zealand Copyright © 2015 www.weather-and-climate.com
Luckily, we planned to be here mostly in the summer, arriving during the warmest period of the summer, in January. When we first arrived almost two months ago, it was warm enough to warrant the use of fans during the day and again at night. Now, we use neither, huddled under the warm comforter at night, exposed skins chilled to the touch.

Yesterday and last night, the house was literally shaking in the wind, startling us at times. It’s a solid, sturdy, well-built house. We had no fear of any damage occurring, but at times, it reminded us of the horrible spring and summer storms in Minnesota when we’d had considerable damage on several occasions.

Once we’re done here today we’ll head out hoping to find a few photo ops on a drive into town to head to the health food store. I’m chomping at the bit to get out to take more photos, but with recent heavy rains and now the heavy winds, we’ve decided to wait. We still have plenty of time.

For Tom…The cria’s name is “Minnesota!”  We couldn’t stop smiling!

It’s hard to believe that we’ll be on yet another cruise in only 34 days. As much as we love cruising, we’re easily embracing every last day here on the farm looking forward to the alpacas moving back closer to us sometime in the next few weeks. 

I’ve missed them during these inclement weather days and most certainly, we’ll be walking down to their current paddock to see them as soon as the winds abate to a degree.

Our new camera is able to zoom in to these cows on the neighboring farm.

As winter rolls into spring in the US we expect most of our family and friends in frigid Minnesota are looking forward to better weather in the near future. We recall only too well, the slush and mush in March and April as we all anticipated the short spring and summer. 

Now, all of that is behind us. In 15 months we’ll be in Minnesota to visit family and it will almost be summer when we arrive in early June, just in time for the grandchildren to be out of school for the season.

May all of our readers have a beautiful day wherever you may be with lots of warmth and sunshine in your lives!

Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2015:

We were excited to see many more flowers blooming in Kauai as spring approached. For more details as we approached sister Julie’s visit, please click here.

Part 1…Beautiful and hilarious faces…Take a peek for a warmed heart and a hearty laugh…Part 2 in a few weeks…

Check out that smile with grass!

Perhaps it’s just us. Maybe we’re somewhat daft for loving animals as we do finding joy, humor, knowledge, and a passion for their health and well-being as we tour the world.

They often appear to be smiling.  Perhaps, these gentle animals are as happy as they appear.

Whether it’s a bird, an insect, a lion, or one of the endearing alpacas on this beautiful farm in New Zealand, we stop to observe, to analyze, to study online to learn as much as we can.

Many moons ago we wrote about the therapeutic benefits for animal lovers when spending time in their presence. Whether it’s one’s own pet or an animal in the wild, many find a surge of feel-good hormones rushing through their bodies.

The noses and lips of the cria are pink until they mature. This cria is only 24 hours old, hugging close to mom.

Yesterday, as we walked the grounds of the farm, I commented to Tom how spending time with the alpacas makes me feel as if I’ve been infused with an added dose of happiness, unable to wipe the smile off my face.

The bottom teeth are of varying sizes and shapes on each of the alpacas, not unlike in humans.

Looking at Tom, I saw that same smile and sense of peace on his face as we got up close to the alpacas, many of whom have come to know us as we approach the fences at the various paddocks.

Again, we stopped to see the pink cockatoos capture this funny photo from the moment they saw us. Surely, visiting them will be a frequent stopover our remaining time on the farm. 

“Look,” she says, “That weird pair of humans are back, staring at us!”  Even the faces of birds are expressive.

Against the narrow diamond-shaped galvanized chain-link which houses the cockatoos, I tightly positioned the lens of the camera to ensure I got a good shot without any major amounts of chain link appearing in the photo.

Using photo editing software I was able to “erase” any remaining vestiges of the chain links, allowing as clear a view as possible of these exquisite cockatoos.

It’s not unusual to see alpacas with grass sticking out of their mouths.

As I sit here now, sipping Tom’s perfectly made French press coffee, I need only lift my head to peer outside on this chilly morning to see a number of alpacas munching on the dew-covered grass in the side paddock to which they were moved a few days ago. 

Posing for the camera!

They’re moved each week to one of the many paddocks to allow the grass to refresh and regrow. Our favorite paddock is the one closest to the house, essentially in our immediate yard, where we can reach out and touch them from the deck. 

This is Gypsy Rose who loves to look in the kitchen window while I cook.This photo was taken through the glass.

Within a few weeks, they’ll be back close at hand which may be for the last time while we’re still here, as our time winds down and we’ll soon have to go. Over this past almost two months we’ve come to know and love them not unlike we’ve adored other wildlife in our travels; warthogs, kudus, zebras, giraffes, and more in Marloth Park and “Birdie”, albatross and chicks and whales in Hawaii.

There are only a few dark fleece alpacas that appear larger and very expressive.

If we weren’t determined to see many parts of the world, I could easily spend all of our travel time living in wildlife areas or on farms with animals (after this amazing farm experience). 

We love visiting these two located in a paddock further down the road, although still on the farm.  They often appear side by side although they are of the same gender.  Adult females (dams) and males (machos) are kept apart unless mating.

Its not beyond my realm to conceive of spending most of our time in Africa and other wildlife-rich locations although doing so would be less ideal for Tom. Instead, we both relish in one another’s preferences making our travels meaningful to both of us. 

No, I haven’t been disappointed living in countries where a passing bird or an insect may be the only creature within the range of the camera. We always seem to find points of interest and other pleasing aspects of every country we’ve visited.

This female appears to have a mouthful of teeth.

Today, we share Part 1 of some of our favorite alpaca photos…faces…adorable, heartwarming, and funny, if not hilarious.  We’ll share Part 2 on another date over these next remaining weeks. 

Most of these faces shown today were taken with our old camera. I’m anxious to capture more with the new more advanced camera, especially now as their fleece has begun growing back after their annual springtime shearing, making them even more adorable.

Ears tucked back for the photoshoot.

Smile with us, laugh with us, and hopefully, you too will feel a little rush of endorphins and feel-good hormones from the sheer joy of such simple beauty in the faces of these somewhat peculiar-looking creatures.

Today, we’re off to the winery.  Back tomorrow with new photos!

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2015:

It’s hard to believe it was a year ago we visited new friends Bev and Sam in Kauai who’d invited us to movie night at their home. Bev and Sam are the couples from whom we’ll be renting the fabulous villa in Costa Rica in 2017. This photo is of a small portion of the grounds of their beautiful home in Kauai.  Bev explained that these red bamboo stalks on the right as Lipstick  Bamboo.  We continued on the pavers set in dense grass for an interesting tour of their gorgeous, former botanical gardens home.  For more photos, please click here.

Another extraordinary day on the farm…Graphic birthing video and photos…

This is the first full birthing video we’ve taken since our arrival at the alpaca farm over six weeks ago.

I get it. Some of our readers may be tired of hearing about the alpacas. For you, we apologize for our one-track minds while living on this farm. Were any animal lovers living here, it would be easy to see how enthralled we have become with these amazing animals.

We both giggled over our “safari luck” to be able to see the birth when we happened to be walking past.

While living in  South Africa, we were equally wrapped up in the animals on a daily basis as they wandered about our vacation rental, in the same manner, they do here. 

The only difference here is the lack of variety in breeds of animals when instead we have the immense variety of the differences in personalities of the alpacas the more and more we come to know them. Even the rapidly growing cria have developed their own demeanor setting them apart from the others.

Elliouse walked about the paddock as the birth progressed, never far from the other mom or our easy viewing.
Yesterday morning, Tom and I walked toward Trish and Neil’s home to check out birds they invited us to see at any time. Although they weren’t home we were sensitive in respecting their privacy by avoiding any photos of their house itself instead, taking photos of some of the interesting surroundings which we’ll soon post.

We never saw the birds they’d described but will return again soon to see what we may find and when we do, we’ll certainly post those photos as well.

More ears crowning.

On the way toward their home, I mentioned to Tom that one of the four pregnant moms was moaning all of which have been kept in the separate paddock along the road awaiting the birth of their cria.  

With his less-than-ideal hearing from years of working on the railroad, at times he’s unable to hear certain sounds.  On the walk back from their home, I noticed the moaning has escalated a little, not outrageously loud but slightly more detectible. At that point, Tom was able to hear her as well.

For a moment, Elliouse sat down to rest while the other moms watched with their heads up as they waited for the birth.

We stopped, camera in hand, and with our limited experience we could tell a small portion of the cria’s face was “crowning.” The birth of the cria could be imminent. As small as she was compared to the others, we wondered if she may be a young mom having her first birth. Would her small stature present as an issue? 

With Trish and Neil at work, with him as a physician (not a vet) and both highly experienced in the delivery of the cria, if we needed to reach them we could do so quickly when they both work in town and could get back to the farm in 20 minutes, if necessary.

Elouise almost looks as if she is smiling as she sees the cria’s birth was going as nature intended with the front legs showing. We were also relieved.

Seeing the face crowning through the membranes gave us comfort in hoping we’d soon see the front legs.  Trish and Neil explained that if face and front legs come first, most likely the remainder of the birth will go well, providing there were no other unforeseen complications. 

Having had this experience when Miss Jessica was born one week before my birthday, we’d joyfully watched over her birth when Trish and Neil were out of the town.  With both of them in close proximity and, based on our past experience, we weren’t worried, instead, feeling excited. 

Our goal during yesterday’s occasion was to make a video of the miraculous birth in its entirety with a number of photos accompanying the experience, should anything go wrong with the video.

The cria gently landed on the ground listless only for a few minutes while we watched in anticipation.

With our relatively modest lightweight camera which soon must be replaced after substantial humidity has caused issues over these past 18 months, taking videos is tricky. Regardless, we forged ahead, managing to get the video we hoped at the exact moments of the birth. 

Holding up the camera up for so long was challenging but my motivation didn’t falter. Pain or not, I held it up in place as we waited, attempting to anticipate the moment to begin the video when our intention was to keep it short with uploading issues on metered wifi. 

Few readers care to watch a 10-minute video when we’ve determined keeping a video under two minutes is ideal which we managed in this case albeit a bit shakily when I’d been holding up the camera for quite some time. There was no time to run back to our house for the tripod.

This is at 10 minutes after the birth, as the cria wiggles on the grass attempting to stand.

It was interesting watching the three other moms as they stood to watch over her during the birth of her cria.  There was no doubt in our minds they were well aware of what was transpiring as they spent less time grazing and more time on the lookout and engaged in the birth. 

Once the baby was born we started the countdown on the 20 minutes requirement for the cria to stand on its own. If the cria struggled to stand after this time frame or seemed listless, we may have had to help which we were prepared to do if necessary.

This cria hardly needed human intervention when he (we later discovered it was a male), squirmed about almost constantly during that 20 minute period raising his head in less than 8 minutes after his birth.

Smaller mom, Eliouse, didn’t seem to want aunties intruding with the cria, hissing at this pregnant mom a few times.

In precisely 24 minutes from the birth, the cria was on his feet. Wobbly on spindly legs we laughed over and over as he attempted to stand, finally doing so with little certainty but considerable enthusiasm.

We’d be standing at the paddock for over an hour. With the cria and mom both looking healthy and happy we returned home anxious to email Trish, check our photos, and upload the video to YouTube. 

Finally, 24 minutes after birth the cria stands on wobbly legs while mom watches. It’s amazing how the moms know the cria must stand quickly to ensure their good health.

A short time later, we spotted Trish and Neil at the paddock. As it turned out, they were on their way home for lunch, a daily occurrence on workdays. We’d sent an email but they’d yet to see it. 

They were as excited as we were when we shared the experience in their absence.  They explained the mom, named Eliouse, was in fact 12 years old, having given birth to many cria over the years, and was an attentive and loving mom.

Now, with only three pregnant moms yet to give birth, we chuckled over how timely our stay on the farm has been. Had we arrived at any other time of the year, we’d have missed these delightful experiences of the births and the pure pleasure of watching these playful youngsters as they quickly grow.

If showing these funny lower teeth (alpacas don’t have upper teeth) can indicate an emotional state of happiness, Eliouse was indeed happy with the birth of her new offspring. We were happy too!  What an experience!

Today, when the cleaning people arrive soon, we’ll be off to town to shop at a variety of markets. We both enjoy the shopping each week, especially stopping at a number of locations.

Each day offers some degree of magic, whether it’s the birth of a cria, the singing of a bird, or a flower blooming as summer winds down in New Zealand. It only requires us to pay attention to our surroundings. May your surroundings provide YOU with some magic today!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2015:

Kealia Beach as we walked along the Kauai Path on a sunny day in Kauai one year ago. For more photos from the Kauai Path, please click here.

Alpacas mating…Video…Time consuming process…Not as simple as one may assume…

We took this video during the mating.

This morning at 9 am we’re heading an hour south for an exciting local event, returning late in the day. We’ll be back with photos over the next several days which we’re looking forward to sharing.

The males, called Machos, are kept in a separate paddock in order to maintain control over the mating process.

Today’s post prepared late yesterday and completed early this morning is a bit more rushed than usual.  Hopefully, the included video and photos speak for themselves.

We’re continually amazed by the amount of work required by Trish and Neil to manage this 100 alpaca farm, both of whom are also working away from the farm in a high level profession requiring considerable work and commitment.

The pair are placed in a smaller paddock for the purpose of mating. Notice the others looking on with considerable curiosity.

In itself, managing this farm could easily be a full-time commitment.  ]And yet, effortlessly and diligently they both spend many hours each week with nary a complaint. They love and care for these unique creatures with the utmost of love and concern.

Not only are they busy providing nutrient-rich foods a few times each day laid about the paddocks in dozens of colorful bowls as an adjunct to the hay and grass the alpacas graze, but, several entire herds in the various paddocks must be moved frequently to newly greened pastures.

The courtship is rather quick but the event can last for 45 minutes.

Moving the various herds of alpacas from one paddock to another is quite a sight to watch. The alpacas have become accustomed to this process and in their gentle ways, they respond to the carefully managed process that Trish and Neil perform with what appears to be relative ease.

We couldn’t help but laugh over the looks on the faces of the others during the mating.

For us neophytes, it looks a lot easier than it really is. Add the constant handling of baled hay as an additional food source for the alpacas, the annual shearing of all the alpacas, the attendance at alpaca shows throughout the country where they frequently win blue ribbons and awards.

Trish and Neil oversee the mating to ensure all is going well.  The Macho is wearing the harness used to bring him to the mating pen.

The record-keeping is a big part of the management of the farm with each alpaca tagged and named, as is the case for the cria shortly after birth. As much as we’re enjoying the playful entertainment by these amazing animals, we don’t take lightly the responsibility required in all of the above…including the mating process.

We don’t profess to know much about the breeding of alpaca other than the answers to questions we’ve asked of Trish and Neil as time has allowed with their busy schedules.

We were up close during this particular mating.  Others we’ve observed from a distance.

Today, we share the snippets we’ve gleaned, hoping if any of our readers have more specific questions they’ll refer online for more information with many sites providing details. Here are a few points of interest we gleaned in the process:

  • Females referred to as the “Hembra” with the male referred to as the “macho.” Males and females do not live together in the paddock and are only brought together for mating purposes.
The other hang close, so they can watch The crias were chasing one another mimicking the making behavior.
  • Hembra can be bred at one year of age and continue to breed until they are 14 to 15 years old. Machos reach maturity at 2 to 3 years of age.
  • Hembra are referred to as “induced ovulators” meaning they do not have a specific cycle. They can be mated at any time while ovulation is induced by the actions of the macho.
The female will only resist if she’s impregnated from a prior session which immediately is terminated ensuring Trish and Neil there no need to continue.
  • Gestation is approximately 11.5 (from 335 to 342 days) months. Hembra can be mated two weeks after giving birth of the “cria” of which there is only one birth per year.
  • 14 days after mating, the female is reintroduced to the male. If she is pregnant she will not sit down for the mating process. Instead, she will engage in what is referred to as the “spit off” test by kicking, running away, and spitting at the male. It’s this process that enables the farm owners to determine the Hembra is in fact pregnant until further blood tests at a later date. If the “spit off” doesn’t occur, this means the Hembra is not pregnant and she cooperates in the mating.
He was no worse for the wear after the event.

Having witnessed this entire life cycle at various stages since our arrival over one month ago we feel honored for the experience as we continue to observe this miracle of life.

He even offered a little smile for the camera.

Now, we’re off for our upcoming busy day and will return tomorrow with a new story and photos of a popular annual event in the Taranaki Region.  Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2015:

One year ago, we visited Spouting Horn in Kauai where spouts in the lava formed from which the ocean spouted as the waves washed in and out to the shore. We could only imagine how majestic it would have been on a day when the waves were more aggressive. For more photos, please click here.

The photos ops never cease in New Zealand…Traveling far not always required for maximum enjoyment…

This “piece of art” in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi’s great sense of humor.

There’s no doubt if we traveled the day’s drive to reach the ferry to visit the South Island of New Zealand with a 3.5-hour ferry ride, we’d be in for a lot of surprises and amazing scenery. When we first arrived over five weeks ago, doing so had been a possibility.

We noticed ducks swimming in the waterway.

As we researched plans for the future, paying well in advance for upcoming cruises, airfare, hotels, and vacation homes, we came to the realization that the cost of traveling to the South Island didn’t fit our current budgetary guidelines.

This waterway runs through downtown New Plymouth with a small waterfall.

Having recently paid  NZ $5730, US $3800 for health insurance with a substantial tax bill upcoming on the US income tax day on April 15th, we’ve had to pick and choose what makes the most sense at this time.

As the ducks approached the waterway, they began to “go for it.”

We’re not unlike most people deciding on “vacations/holidays” as to when they make the most sense financially.  The round trip cost of the ferry to the South Island  $552, US $300. Add the cost of fuel, hotels, and meals on the road, we’d easily spend upwards of NZ $3011, US $2000 for a five-day getaway.

Even taking a minimum of five days with two full days of travel time getting to the South Island and back, leaving us only three days to travel which isn’t in essence enough time to visit the highlights.

It all happened so quickly I had no time to change the camera setting for better shots.

As always in our worldwide travels, we have to pick and choose what makes the most sense. Living entirely off our monthly income plus saving for pricey future plans such as Antarctica and South America, we aren’t able to do everything we find appealing.

We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched the ducks navigate the waterfall.

A part of the challenge for us is making all of our world travels work financially as well as encompassing our desires for vast experiences. So far, with as much world as we’ve seen to date, we’ve been confident with our decisions as to where we travel, our experiences,7 and upholding the maintenance of our carefully planned budget.

The area near the waterway.

We have no margin for unplanned/unbudgeted events, only emergencies that may arise from time to time.  Regardless of how good a “deal” we may receive on vacation home rentals, we still continue to have many other expenses in our travels. 

Calm waters out to sea in this area.

The fact that we’re always paying well in advance for future travels in large lump sums has had a bearing on what we choose to do in the interim. This strict adherence to our budget is the only way we can continue to travel the world.

In a way, it’s not unlike my strict dietary guidelines. If I didn’t follow this way of eating, always requiring a certain degree of self-control and sacrifice we wouldn’t be able to travel when I’d be subject to poor health. 

Elephant pained on side of the building in downtown New Plymouth.

It’s not a whole lot different with managing money…a certain degree of self-control and sacrifice is necessary.  Often we write that we don’t like to travel far from our current location with a substantial part of those reasons revolving around the fact that traveling costs more money. 

Paying for two places to “rest our heads” at night just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us on a regular basis, although on a rare special occasion we may choose to make an exception.

Walkway along the river in downtown New Plymouth.

As we continue to relish in every aspect of the beautiful expansive Taranaki Region, we feel comfortable being able to continually find interesting and appealing points of interest and experiences we freely embrace.

Thanks to all of our readers for sharing this continuing journey with us wherever we may be. Have a filled day engaged with the activities that work for you, for your health, well-being, and way of life.

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2015:

At first, the tree we saw at the Hawaii National Botanical Garden, one year ago, we thought this tree had been painted which would be ridiculous in the tropical garden. Upon closer inspection, I could hardly believe my eyes. It is a Rainbow Eucalyptus or Eucalyptus Deglupta For more photos, please click here.

Centre City Shopping Centre…Shopping in New Plymouth…

Tom, outside the shopping mall.

Visiting shopping malls throughout the world has proved rather interesting. Varying in size and appearance from tiny strip malls in Diani Beach, Kenya manned with armed military checking our driver’s vehicle for bombs and frisking us upon entering the shops, to massive luxurious indoor multi level modern malls such as in Dubai, United Arabic Emirates.

As we entered the mall, it was evident we were in a modern facility.
A nail salon, Regal Beauty Therapist.

We had few expectations for one of the two indoor malls in New Plymouth, the Centre City Shopping Centre. With the relatively small population in the area, under 80K, and the fact that this is a casual area we were surprised by the wide array of shops in the modern building. 

Serve yourself frozen yogurt with a separate unlocked display for easy access toppings.

Recently dining in two of the most “fancy” restaurants in town, like us, most were dressed in khaki pants, jeans, nice shorts, and shirts. Some women were wearing casual cotton-type skirts and casual dresses. 

Seating in the food court.

As a result of the casual nature of this area, the shops in the Centre City Shopping Centre mall located in downtown New Plymouth include many stores selling blue jeans to dressy casual, some cruise wear, mostly women’s clothing of all sizes with fewer men’s stores.

A book store.

The styles that appeal to my needs seemed few, but I had little chance to really check as we breezed through the mall. I haven’t been shopping for clothing in a large mall since our three-day trip to Boston 17 months ago, to visit family when our Atlantic crossing cruise ended. I have no idea as to current styles, colors, pant/jean designs for adult women these days.

Coffee shop with baked goods.

With limited clothing in our possession (as shown in our photos as we wear the same clothing over and over again) neutral is the best way to go. I only own two items with patterns, both of which are getting ready to toss, as they’ve worn out beyond repair.

More desserts and baked goods.

As we wandered the multiple-level mall, I checked the stores to see if there were anywhere I’d be able to find a few new items for the upcoming seven booked cruises. 

 Candy in NZ is referred to as “lollie.”  This Lollie Cake Slice looks good.

While in Hawaii, a year ago, I’d purchased a few new tops for the then-upcoming cruise from Hawaii to Sydney.  As mentioned above, a few of those items already show signs of wear and tear making them unsuitable for my taste.

A general merchandise shop.

I made an error in purchasing the remainder of the items in Hawaii that wrinkle so badly they’re unwearable unless ironed each time they’re worn. Next time I shop, I’ll choose wrinkle-free items.

Shoes in many styles.

As my eyes darted back and forth from store to store, I could tell Tom was antsy although he made every effort to allow me to peruse. There’s no way I’d be able to shop with him along, sensing how annoyed he gets in a mall.

Jeans store and chain haircutting shop Tom visited in Australia.

Thus, we decided that during our last month here, he’ll drop me off at the mall, picking me up a few hours later. The time constraint won’t bother me and hopefully, I’ll be able to find a few suitable items. 

Few men’s shops compared to women’s options.

In no time at all, I suggested we leave. We walked each of the three levels, checked out the food court, stopped in the pharmacy, looked at the “sweets” in a variety of shops as shown in photos (purchasing none) and it was time to be on our way.

Farmers is a popular larger department store.  Prices seem reasonable at most of the stores. 

Each time we’re out, when we return “home” we feel happy to have explored and happy to have embraced the way of life in our current location. New Zealand is special. The journey continues…

Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2015:

We were intrigued by the oblong shape of this palm tree trunk at Kukuiolono Park which we visited one year ago. For more details and photos, please click here.

Photos of a popular architecturally interesting Taranaki landmark…

There were numerous birds flying in the area most likely due to visitors feeding them when picnicking.

Yesterday morning, upon completion of the post, the sun was shining and we headed out to check out a few popular attractions. One of those that held particular interest to us was the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.

The easy walkway to the Te Kewa Kewa bridge was pleasant.

From the “100% New Zealand” website, here’s their description:

Where functionality meets fine art – New Plymouth’s Te Rewa Rewa pedestrian/cycle bridge is an impressive illustration of innovative local engineering.  The tied arch bridge has a clear span of almost 70 meters and is part of the award-winning New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.

Spanning the Waiwhakaiho River, its iconic form represents the sacred relationship between the land, sea, and wind with the Ngati Tawhirikura tribe.

Te Rewa Rewa Bridge opened on June 5, 2010, as part of the extension of the Coastal Walkway, making possible a 10 kilometers off-road route for cycling, walking, running, skateboarding and rollerblading.

The bridge has quickly become a proud piece of Taranaki with a couple of international awards already to its name:

Footbridge Awards 2011 – Aesthetics Medium-Span Winner (for bridges with spans between 30 meters and 75 meters).

International Bridge Conference: Bridge Awards 2011 – Arthur G. Hayden Medal (for a single recent outstanding achievement in bridge engineering demonstrating innovation in special use bridges such as pedestrian, people-mover, or non-traditional structures).”

The unique architecturally interesting Te Kewa Kewa Bridge.

No more than 10 minutes down the highway toward town, the clouds completely covered the previously blue sky. We decided to check out the downtown mall, the modern Centre City Shopping Centre (yep, that’s the name) to kill some time hoping the skies would clear. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of the modern mall complex.

Tom at the beginning of the bridge a short walk over the Waiwhakaiho River.

Spending a short time in the mall (Tom’s not a mall kind of guy) we headed out to The Rewa Rewa Bridge in hopes of taking some decent photos to share. The skies hadn’t cleared, but we decided to proceed with our plans.

The expanse of the Waiwhakaiho River to the sea is beautiful, most likely more so on a sunny day.

We were pleasantly surprised when we easily found the exquisite bridge built over the Waiwhakaiho River to find paved walkways, beaches, picnic areas, and fishing spots. 

The Waiwhakaiho River views with the ocean at a distance.

With the possibility of rain, it appeared few were enjoying the surroundings. With the tail end of summer in this part of the world, there have been few days where outdoor activities have attracted a lot of locals to the parks and beaches. Later, we discovered the reason why few visitors were in the water (see below).

There were bicyclists on the bridge.

We walked along some of the trails, stopping for photos finally making our way to the bridge as shown in these photos. The contemporary bridge is an obviously important work of art to the people of New Zealand that also is a well-built functional means of crossing the Waiwhakaiho River, which flows to the sea.

View from the bridge.

The activity on the bridge was busier than we’d anticipated with the few visitors seen in the area. There were walkers, runners, bicyclists, and tourists with cameras in hand. 

Many birds populate the area of the river and the Lake Rotomanu

Later, we discovered online that the sparse crowds at the Lake Rotomanu were a direct result of a recent notice of Escherichia coli or E Coli in the lake and river in this area. 

From this link“The council tested for fecal coliform, E Coli, and enterococci bacteria. Almost all samples which returned a high count were caused by birdlife such as seagulls, ducks, and pukekos.” The number of birds is evidenced in our photos which at the time, we had no idea their presence was an issue.

Warning signs are posted in the area.

We took our time in the well-planned area. New Zealand is not unlike the US and other countries with numerous lovely parks, lakes, beaches, and recreational areas, all well marked for dangers, rules, and regulations. 

More Lake Rotomanu photos will be posted another day.

The difference we find in New Zealand is their sense of humor that follows through on road signs, informational signs, news broadcasts, and any other means by which the city or country stresses a particular point to the public, often making following regulations more palatable for some visitors. We continually giggle over that sense of humor the longer we’re here.

View of the bridge from a distance.

Today, we’re staying in to catch up on laundry, visit the alpacas who are now moved to the far-from-the-house paddock for a week or so, and take the usual walk in this astoundingly wonderful neighborhood.  I’m looking forward to visiting our favorite cow.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2015:

One year ago, Tom and a scarecrow at the Kauai Coffee Company.  For more photos, please click here.