‘[She] knew that little ideas that tickled, and nagged, and refused to go away should never be ignored, for in them lie the seeds of destiny.’-Babe
Welcome to the AGRODOME!!! Sorry, whenever I say the name in my head, I think of Mad Max. This place is much less aggressive! It started out as a place to have sheep sheering competitions (yes, its a real thing), animal shows, and a way to highlight Kiwi livestock. While it is still all of those things, it also allows tourists! I will admit, if it was not part of my Waitomo/Te Puia tour, it would have been a hard pass. I have so little time, why would I want to hang out on a farm…I would have regretted it because the Agrodome is awesome and you can just call me Laura Ingalls!
You arrive and the whole thing looks unassuming. A bearded man took us inside and showed us how to sheer a sheep. Apparently, you need all sorts of special clothing to make sure you don’t die and it is fairly quick (the sheering, that is). I was able to touch raw wool…it smelled and was a little gross but I was wearing wool socks with my hiking boots so it was all very meta. I also learned that depending what part of the body it came from, it is used for different things because sometime the dirt just won’t come out so you dye it and make said socks (okay, it’s not exactly like that but I am not, in fact, Laura Ingalls)!
We then boarded a large tractor and toured the grounds and holy shit were there all sorts of animals. I’m a sucker for a duck (no swans please) and there were plenty. I had no idea there were so many different types of sheep, cows, pigs, etc. I was also able to see a stag with full antlers and immediately thought of Bambi (but less tragic).
While there had been a sheep herding show to start (it was missing a piglet named Babe but the dog was cute), things with the sheep got much closer on the tour. I, a girl who has never really had a pet of her own (my brother had some ferrets when I was in my late teens), was the sheep whisperer. We got to feed them and they just flocked to me (maybe it was because of said socks or that I am reading a book series, The Wheel of Time, where the main character, Rand, is a shepherd). They were polite and well mannered. Then, some lamas and alpacas showed up, and I was able to feed them too! You can go back to calling me Laura Ingalls, ha! I would never have described myself as an animal person but I loved it. Now, I my abstract hope has become I very much would like a dog named Neville (it’s probably a good thing they are not allowed in my apartment but I’ll be moving soon, so…)
A note for those who have traveled internationally and filled out customs forms. There is are questions asking if you have been to a farm and come into close contact with livestock. The penalty for lying on these forms is very steep (between $12,000-$25,000), so tell the truth. As I tend to get searched (I am sure it has nothing to do with being born in Saudi Arabia), I made sure I said yes to both questions. The most I was asked about it was arriving into Australia where I was asked if my boots were muddy. They weren’t (I mean they’re not clean but that could be Icelandic dirt) and they let me go on my way. I went to another (smaller) farm in Australia, so coming back to the States, I again checked yes to both questions. They didn’t ask me at all. I cannot say this will be the case for you, but it bodes well that the girl who gets asked, ‘Well, you don’t look Arab’ quite frequently didn’t have an issue.
Overall, I had a blast at the Agrodome. The guide was awesome (and I regret I cannot remember his name but he’s the bearded ginger) and provided a lot of humor and knowledge. I’m one step closer to my prairie dreams or at least of getting Neville.