All my dreams came true today when I experienced my very own ‘alpaca’lypse in Akaroa, New Zealand.
Visiting the Alpaca Farm
In planning my vacation, I had plowed through every New Zealand article that Liz (Young Adventuress) had written. I put Shamarra Alpaca Farm in my “VISIT FOR SURE” tab on my spreadsheet, and any animal lover should do the same.
I mean, look at her photo essay.
Who doesn’t have time for alpacas?! I WILL HIKE TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO FIND ALL THE ALPACA FARMS.
You’ll want to make an online reservation before you go (I did mine the evening before and it was fine).
Also note that you’ll need to park down the hill upon your arrival, since the farm itself is quite a ways up. They have a van that comes down an extremely steep driveway to pick you up and drive you to the actual farm.
Getting Up Close & Personal with the Alpacas
Each tour lasts about an hour, and I had the luxury of an unintentional private tour due to the season (and it was pouring rain). The cost ($40 NZD in winter, $50 NZD in summer) is going to a good cause: to upkeep an ethical farm that focuses on breeding alpacas for public adoration and cuddles.
The following photos might cause you to work on an alpaca farm ASAP.
You’re allowed to feed them, pet them, and cuddle up to them for photos throughout the tour. If you go in the summer (November – February), you might find their fleece shaved down a bit to acclimate to the warm weather.
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°C. Most alpacas have a life span of 18-20 yrs.
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.
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 amazing guide) had me bury my hand deep into their fleece and feel how they radiated heat like a hot water bottle. Their bodies acclimate to colder climates, so the chilly 7°C rainy weather wasn’t problematic to 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, Ping, etc.).
They all have their own personalities. Alpacas are known to be incredibly intelligent, loving animals. 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 females spit into my face as I was holding the dish out to them. She was going for the alpaca next to me (again, territorial), 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 (*hem-hem*) as a mode of communication.
The girls are separated from the boys in the pens.
“They’ll flirt too much if they’re grouped together!” The pregnant alpacas are also housed separately and were just feeding on hay and sitting pretty the whole time (perfect for photo ops).
Shamarra Alpaca Farm primarily operates to breed the alpacas and use their fleece for products (the shop sells beautiful shawls, scarves, sweaters, and much more). It’s one of the top attractions listed on TripAdvisor in Akaroa.
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.
Akaroa is a beautiful French village in New Zealand that provides you with these stunning views when you drive into the city:
For more photos of the cuddlies, follow the Shamarra Alpaca Farm on Instagram.
P.S. Llamas are cute as well (see below, some random llamas spotted in South Island)!
Like this article? Pin it below!