Sat in a freezing cold room in a hostel frantically searching the WWOOF NZ site for a glimmer of hope. Auckland was not the Kiwi paradise I had envisioned. I needed to get into the heart of the country & thought what better way than to WWOOF.
No, i hadn’t decided to give up & live life as one of our four-legged friends. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms. In exchange for 3-5hrs work a day you get your bed & board. It’s a great way to meet the locals & fully immerse yourself in local life.
Hours were spent trailing the website, most people either didn’t get back to us or were closed for winter. That is…all of them except Hatterburn Farm. We chose to email Anna as some of her previous projects seemed focused on arty work rather than weeding!
Anna message back telling us she would’ve loved to host us & said to try it out for a few days before committing to a set amount of time. As this was our first time WWOOFing we thought this was a great idea. We would’ve hated to commit to a full 2 weeks and end up leaving after 2 days!
We hopped onto the next flight to Wellington before taking the 2 hour train journey to Carterton in the darkness. Anna welcomed us with open arms at the train station & I knew there and then we would get along just fine.
We arrived to their farm & could already feel the warmth enticing us inside the house. It wasn’t until the next morning when we woke up we realised just how much we had landed on a complete diamond of a WWOOF location.
Our host was an artist who lived with her son & husband just outside of the quaint town of Carterton in the Wairarapa. I had expected to spend around 2 weeks there doing hard manual labour & using our downtime to find work in the city. Little did we know then our 2 week trip would last almost 3 months!!
Now before you read the next part, I think what we found with Anna was extremely rare. Most WWOOFing gigs you will be doing monotonous tasks such as weeding & gardening which can be a lot of backbreaking work. Anna however, had other plans for us.
The first few weeks were spent out in their veggie patch building these magnificent wooden fences. I’m the least DIY capable person so I really learnt some life skills! We normally worked from around 10am-1/2pm depending on the weather then the rest of the day was ours.
Once the fences were completed we moved onto the sculpture garden. Anna had this fabulous idea to create these giant totem poles out of clay piping & had us mosaic the local wildlife onto these. Little did I know I’d turn out to be an expert mosaic artist & Kris was a dab hand grouting…although I’m pretty sure he now has grouters lung!
Our mosaic skills impressed Anna so much that she invited us to make some designs to sell at an upcoming art show she was in charge of. I had been asked to help with the admin & she thought Kris could do a live action station showing him tiling the pipes. Little did we know we’d actually sell 2 of them making us over $700!
The weeks flew past & before we knew it, spring was fast approaching. I am completely terrified of bees & wasps and unfortunately as they had such a beautiful garden the bees came in the swarms…NOT a good place for me to be! I ended up doing a lot of indoor jobs like cleaning whilst Kris was outside helping grout a mosaic couch.
Our work schedule was always fair. We would work 3-4hrs each day if it was manual labour. Or when we were indoors doing work by the fire we would work around 4-5hrs each day. But because it was so much fun, it never actually felt like work!
A couple of days we went on trips around the area with Anna to places we never would’ve normally got to see & other times we simply asked Anna if we could have a day off just to relax & again that was no problem.
As a mini master chef I was always more than happy to pitch in at meal times & by the end I’m pretty sure I was running that kitchen! Anna never wanted me to leave!
It was around this time we realised that if we didn’t start looking for work & a place to live in the city we would never leave Carterton.
Anna & her family were so welcoming & warm. We met so many amazing people out there who we shall never forget. We now fondly think of Anna as our adopted Kiwi Family!
If you are ever passing through the Wairarapa be sure to pop in & say hi. You will always be greeted with open arms.