Nestled high above the hills of French Farm on the Akaroa Harbour’s western bays, lies a patch of land like no other. Blessed with some of - if not THE - most astonishing views of Akaroa, sits Shamarra Alpacas, a working stud and farm retreat closely resembling heaven on earth.
Over 170 Alpacas make up this functioning farmstead and visitor attraction, where the resident alpaca are bred for their distinct fleece and calm nature. One look across the herd and you’ll see why their fleece, a kaleidoscope of distinct colours, are some of the most highly regarded textiles on the planet.
Anya Walkington and husband Frank first arrived in New Zealand on holiday, seeking more peace and quiet in their busy lives, and in 2011 they found their Shangri-la. With experience in the cruise and tourism business, and Akaroa receiving Christchurch’s passenger ships, they soon launched an on-farm shop and farm tour where tourists could get up close and personal with their livestock and product.
Among the stars of this show are Rising Sun, Harlequin and Tornado, who are celebrities in their own right, racking up millions of views on social media and particularly popular in Asia. Testament to their selective breeding program, these incredibly calm and approachable animals have progeny spread around the four corners of the world. Some of their offspring fetching upwards of $20,000 per animal.
Feeding time is a real treat. As you step inside the alpacas’ paddock, you soon come to realise how incredibly friendly and relaxed many of the animals are. Despite meeting thousands of tourists every year, these woolly icons aren’t easily spooked. After slowly greeting these gentle giants, the obligatory scratch under the chin or behind the ears soon earns you points, and you’ll soon be stalked around the paddock for more!
Alongside balancing their careful genetics plan matchmaking the right ‘machos’ with appropriate ‘hembra’, the Walkingtons also place particular care on their environment with an emphasis on regenerative agriculture. Using as many organic inputs where possible, they’re continually planting native trees and hand-selected heirloom varieties of grass to rebalance and restore the rugged landscape to its natural form, recognising their responsibility to our whenua.
“When people visit our piece of paradise, guests can rest assured we’re doing our bit for the environment. As caretakers of this slice of heaven, we acknowledge we are simply stewards of this unique patch of land and must do everything in our power to preserve its health and beauty for the next generation. The alpaca also thrive in a natural and biodiverse environment, it’s no mystery that healthy animals are happy animals, and any guest to Shamarra can see we’ve got a truly content bunch,” says I Chen, farm manager, part time farm tour guide, part time animal handler.
Due the texture of Alpaca wool, and its anti-allergenic qualities, the fibres are incredibly useful in clothing and homewares, and the array of colours offers a natural warmth and luxury aesthetic. Inside their store, locally hand crafted, New Zealand and Christchurch-made product lines the shelves and tables. If you prefer retail therapy over animal therapy, prepare to unleash your credit card on some stunning fashion statements, homewares, and gifts as a reminder of your visit.
Perfect for the whole family, a break from the hustle bustle of city life, or simply a stop to take in some of the region’s most incredible scenery, put a visit to Shamarra Alpacas on your radar. You won’t regret it.