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The friendly farms of New Zealand

Room and board for overseas visitors
Sunset,  April, 1987  

The friendly farms of New Zealand
Wood and kiwi fruits have been offered byNew Zealand's farms for years, but now they're offering something else: room, board, and country hospitality.
In the past decade, some 1,200 family farms, from the Bay of Islands to Invercargill, have opened their doors to overseas guests. Many are within an hour's drive of a major tourist destination.
Most farm visitors are surprised--and delighted--by the overwhelming friendliness of their hosts. As one said, "When I left, I felt as though I were saying good-bye to dear friends. And I'd only been with them overnight!'
Visits are usually for a night or two. Averagecost per night is $35 to $85, double occupancy, including dinner and breakfast. Four Sunset editors have enjoyed farm stays, and we've interviewed other guests. Here's what we found.
Walk, talk, or help with the chores
In a typical stay, you arrive about 2 P.M.You're shown to your room, then perhaps offered tea and a sweet. You can join in simple farm chores, if you like.
Back at the house, you freshen up--andperhaps have a drink with the hosts before dinner. The evening's conversation could range from discussing your plans for the next day to international issues.
Usually, it's early to bed. Many travelerssaid it was their best sleep in weeks.
Room and board, farm-style
The houses run the gamut from simplesuburban-style homes to estates. Some offer private baths; in others, you share facilities with your hosts. Your room will likely be furnished with twin beds.
Meals are straightforward. Dinner couldbe lamb, with several different cooked vegetables, a green salad, and rich dessert. Breakfast is served around 8 or 9.
If possible, bring only a small suitcase toyour farm; check the rest at a hotel or airport. You won't need dress clothes, but do pack sweaters, slacks, and walking shoes. You might inquire about swimming, tennis, or golf nearby.
How to set up a visit
Make prepaid arrangements through atravel agent, or write or call the reservations agencies listed at right. The New Zealand Tourist and Publicity Office can also provide information: write or call NZTP, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1530, Los Angeles 90024, (213) 477-8241; or NZTP, Citicorp Center, Suite 810, 1 Sansome St., San Francisco 94104, (415) 788-7404.
You have a better chance of staying at thefarms of your choice if you make prepaid reservations. If you can't, some agencies sell vouchers. These let you prepay for a certain number of nights, but you needn't select the farms until two days (or more) before your stay; be prepared to call several to find vacancies. Check driving times with your host; roads are good but not wide. Your host may recommend sightseeing en route.
Most hosts find it awkward to ask guestsfor money, and a preplanned itinerary or vouchers minimize money transactions. Lunch is usually not included in the fee, nor is pickup at bus or rail stations; you pay the agency for these extras in advance. If you use the host's telephone, ask the operator to give you the charges.
These eight agencies, recommended bythe NZTP office, all have established track records. All have at least a hundred listings, most many more; unless noted they are on both North and South islands. Write for brochures. When making reservations, be sure to mention any special interests, such as fishing or wool-growing Some farms raise sheep, beef and dairy cattle, deer (for venison), or racehorses others grow kiwis, berries, or apples.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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