Friday, 18 March 2016

Gotland Sheep

The Black Sheep Of The Family

Photo stolen from Pinterest

Gotland Sheep are a rare breed named for the Swedish island of Gotland. While in NZ in December I first encountered them on the South Island during a drive from Nelson to Golden Bay along Highway 60. The drive is long and arduous, (about 70 miles), over the Takaka Hills also known as Marble Mountain. The whole family in convoy were about to spend a precious week together in a bach in this deserted beach side spot.

We stopped a while in the hills at a small café/farm and outside were these wonderful dark grey/black sheep. They are a breed with a dual purpose being very sought after for their fleece but also for the delicious taste of their flesh. They are an unusual appearance having no wool on their heads of legs. There was one tiny lamb in a pen, which had been abandoned by its mother, and my grandson was delighted to be able to bottle feed it, (and also try to get it to eat toast).

Two little sweeties

Before we laid eyes on Golden Bay, we enjoyed an amazingly scenic road journey. There are signposted lookouts along the way and the subterranean marvels of Harwoods Hole, and the Ngarua Caves should not be missed. These stops made the journey take a whole day.

Te Waikoropupu Springs, (also known as Pupu Springs), is on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka a true hippy paradise like something out of a wild west movie. The springs are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. We took a stroll around the walkways and read the interpretive panels along the way -  it was truly amazing - a beautiful spot.

As the road led west, fabulous views of Golden Bay kept us entertained. The huge, sandy bay is famous for its scallops. Collingwood is the final settlement of any size before Farewell Spit, a lengthy sandspit that wraps itself around the upper reaches of the bay. The sandspit is a bird sanctuary - too long to walk, so you might want to catch a guided safari to see the lighthouse and birds there.

On the Tasman Sea side of Cape Farewell is Warariki Beach - a wild, beautiful place where wind and waves have created massive rock and sand dune formations. The ultimate Wharariki experience is a horse trek, again another thing that the whole family did on a stunning sunny morning.

Lots of our time was spent at The Mussel Inn, Onekaka, which is the only place to eat for miles around. It was a charming rustic pub/café/brewery with live music and lots of hippie visitors to admire.

I was reminded of this wonderful trip and of the unusual breed of sheep when visiting the charming kilt maker yesterday when he produced a skein of the rare wool of a Gotland Sheep. It was soft and fluffy and a delightful shade of deep grey/black with a hint of silver.

The wool can be grey to silver to charcoal 

NZ Beauty


  1. You make s fab virtual tour guide! The trip sounds amazing! (Did I tell you jackie has had to cancel her NZ trip :-(

  2. they look slightly mad with their curly coats xx Thanks for sharing your memories xx

  3. Thank you for taking us along on part of your fabulous adventure. New Zealand is definitely on my travel wish list. Love the sheep! :-)


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