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"I want the family farm - the backbone of our country's heritage - to thrive and survive for future generations."

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Agritour in 2013 to Feature New Zealand

By Jane Eckert

Did you know that New Zealand has over 35 million sheep compared to just a little over 4.3 million people? Have you ever heard of the Agrodome in Rotorua, New Zealand, which entertains international audiences with sheep shearing demonstrations and farm animals that perform to music?

Most of you know that each year I lead an agritour to farms, wineries and landmarks in various nations and locations around the globe.  Our tours have visited Costa Rica, Israel, Hawaii, and this year, we went to England.  But one of the most frequent requests I receive is for an agritour to New Zealand and Australia, so, I’m pleased to announce that our 2013 Tour will head “down-under.”  On January 24-February 6, 2013, we will visit both the North and South Islands of New Zealand…and for those who can; we’ll have an additional 7 day optional tour to see several agritourism sites in Australia.

Because of its unique location and topography, there is great biodiversity in New Zealand agriculture with both plant material and animals. It will be summer time in this small country, and the fields and markets will be brimming with a great variety of stone fruits, apples, pears, kiwi, citrus and olives. The scenery will be fantastic and the pace relaxed.

We will fly direct from San Francisco to Auckland and immediately begin our touring of this amazing country right there in this fascinating city. With its extensive coastline, seafood for export is one of New Zealand’s major industries and we will be visiting the Auckland Fish Market at the picturesque Viaduct harbor.

The first morning after our arrival we will have a visit a place called Turners and Growers, a major exporter and commercial market facility for vegetables, fruit and flowers. After this stop we will travel by ferry to Waiheke Island, one of the many smaller islands dotting the coastline. On the island, we will visit an olive oil orchard, and enjoy our dinner at a local winery.

Next we visit Matamata, a rural town nestled at the base of the Kaimai mountain range, which has become somewhat famous as the filming location for Lord of the Rings.  The region is known for its thoroughbred industry, dairy farming, and vegetable and orchard growing, as well as for glasshouse-grown chilies, capsicums and feijoa’s. We will be visiting a 3rd generation dairy farm for tour and lunch in their popular restaurant.

Of course, a visit to New Zealand would not be complete without a visit to the Rotorua region that features several agritourism businesses. The best known is the Agrodome Organic Farm that produces the multi-award winning Sheep Show, where the animals come out to music and perform on command.  The Agrodome also features live sheep shearing, cow milking, lamb feeding and dog demonstrations. 

New Zealand is known for its wine making and we will have several opportunities to sample some of the wine products of the country.  The first will be at a large complex known as the Big Picture, which will provide a comprehensive vineyard tour and wine tasting experience in Auckland.  As we tour the Rotorua country side, we will visit Mamaku Blue Blueberry farm that uses their blueberries for such value added products as wines, liqueurs, pure juice, jams, sauces, chocolates and real fruit ice cream. We will have the full experience at Mamaku, from orchard to packing house and then product tasting.

If you want to see a novel agritourism operation, then the Kiwifruit Country attraction is sure to please – the facility is famous for their trams and tour of their horticultural theme park. 

Our visit to New Zealand will allow us to see the beautiful scenery and the stunning Mt. Aspiring National Park, where we can share in the outdoor adventure of a bush walk, coach ride or a jet boat ride on the Dart River. For those more adventurous, we also will be visiting the bridge famous for bungee jumping.

Throughout our journey, we will be traveling via motor coach through the countryside on both islands, and will have the opportunity to stop and visit local farm stands and meet some of the smaller producers. 

Of course, a trip to New Zealand would not be complete without a farmstay. There are many farmers offering their homes and special lodging accommodations for the traveler to truly see and take in the country life.  We will have two different nights where we will be splitting up the group in order to stay on farms, and you will share both dinner and breakfast with the farm family.  In this way, you will truly be able to learn about agriculture and the way of life in New Zealand.

The tour will take us to the cities of Queenstown and Christchurch for sightseeing as well as local farms. All in all, this agritour will have something for everyone who enjoys the outdoors, agricultural production and traveling with friends with like interests.

For many of us, we will probably never get to this part of the world again, so, as an added bonus, we will be providing an optional tour to Australia for those that can extend for another seven days .  Those going on will fly from Christchurch to Sydney for more agriculture and touring.

Please view the entire New Zealand itinerary and the Australia optional extension elsewhere on the website (click here), or send me an email to request a brochure.  This trip is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to share the agriculture of New Zealand with fellow friends and farmers. We will need your reservation deposit shortly in order to secure your spot for January 2013.  

Jane Eckert is the founder of Eckert AgriMarketing (www.eckertagrimarketing.com), a full-service marketing and public relations firm that helps farmers to sell directly to consumers, diversify operations and become tourist destinations. She is also CEO of www.RuralBounty.com, a search directory for agritourism farms and ranches in North America. Jane can be reached at 314-862-6288 or you may email her directly.