After leaving the Cape, I needed to find a place to stay, and start heading a bit back towards Aukland. I tired a few places around Kaitaia just to the south of the Aupouri Peninsula, but the places were all full.
Instead of continuing down the main highway, I decided to drive more towards the west coast and the area just north of the Waipoua Forest. It was a bit off the beaten track, but again, it made for a breathtaking drive. I called a few places and settled on the Waitama Farm Stay in Broadwood basically beacuse it was getting late, it was the closest, and most importantly, they had a BBQ I could cook my T-Bone on.
Rob Campbell was a one man show that night and had actually put up the No Vacancy sign because his wife, who normally runs the backpacker operation was away visiting friends in Australia. Rob is a beef man, and runs the 1100 acre cattle farm. Since I was staying in a tent, and Rob can't say no when people call, he told me to come on and stay. There was actually a young couple from Switzerland...Daniel and Nadine who had called earlier in the day. After dinner, we were joined by an older couple from Denmark who just drove in at 9:30 hoping to find a room. Apparently the missed the No Vacancy sign, but Rob let them stay too.
We just drank a few beers and G & T's around the kitchen table and talked about New Zealand, farming, the world... it was great. Like I imagine it is for most people at the very start of our food chain, farming is a tough life. Most beef in NZ is shipped to the US as xtra lean ground beef where it is mixed with a bit of fat in the states for flavor. This includes all the prime cuts as well that are too lean for our market. The grass feed in NZ means much leaner beef compared to our grain-fed-fat monsters.
In any case, its hard work, and with the price of land skyrocketing there as it is in many places in the developed world, it becomes a harder and harder choice to stick with the life he knows and loves.
The next morning I got up early and went with him to watch 2 bulls and 5 cows get loaded onto a truck to head to the butcher. It was a great rural morning and good to get sense for where our food comes from, and some of the tradeoffs we make to keep things so relatively cheap.