Over the past week we have been lucky enough to be hosted by a wonderfully friendly kiwi couple, Tsarina and Greg, on their 12 acre farmland property in Hanmer Springs.
In exchange for comfy accommodation and scrumptious home-cooked meals, we assist a few hours in the morning with work around their farm. Surrounded with peaceful mountain views like no other, and only the sounds of moo-ing cows & happy chickens, our "work" days have been more-so pleasure!
Tsarina & Greg have given their beautiful property the name of Mancora Ranch, after one of their favourite spots in South America. Mancora Ranch is the home to three horses - Bella, Tara & Zulu, one cow - Jaffa (soon to be two as she is carrying a calf), six sheep, one lamb - Shmoo, one pig - Pig-Pig, four chickens, and two dogs - Mia & Geena.
With a veggie & fruit garden large enough to feed a small army when in full-bloom, we absolutely fell in love with how self-sustainable Tsarina & Greg are aspiring to become.
Our mornings were spent re-building the chicken pen so that the chookens could no longer escape on a daily basis, and up-keeping the current veggie garden, involving lots of weed-maintenance! Mia always liked to come and get her paws dirty too, which meant a hose-down for her later that afternoon so that she could come and enjoy the warm fire-place with us all inside too :)
Once we finished our morning jobs and polished off a delicious lunch, we would set out on adventures that we had planned the night before with the help of local knowledge. Our day-packs filled with water, snacks, and camera gear, we were ready to climb the mountains and explore the forests that surrounded us.
Our first Hanmer expedition saw us hiking from Mancora Ranch to the St James Homestead where we were looking forward to spending the night by the river and under the stars. After three hours of up-hill trekking, we arrived up at the Jacks Pass peak, offering an amazing view back to the village of Hanmer Springs (as pictured below). We sat and enjoyed a warm snack at the top, care of our handy & life-saving Jetboil, before continuing our way into the valley beyond towards our camping destination.
Guided by our headlamps, we arrived to our long awaited destination just after dusk, alongside the ruins of the St James Homestead. With the temperature dropping ever so quickly, we decided to set-up camp and pitch our tent under the stars and next to the Clarence river. After a long day of hiking we devoured a delicious curry for dinner and found ourselves in a food-coma almost instantly. We awoke to enjoy a warming sunrise, packed our tent and headed back to Mancora Ranch
Each of our days here have been filled with either sunshine or snow, exploring the beauty of this little town and enjoying the company of the friendly local’s that are lucky enough to live here.
However, our final and most favourite adventure that we have had in Hanmer was climbing to the very top of Mt Isobel. The way up was steep and at times rather muddy, with Mish somehow managing to lose her entire boot to a mud-pool - much to Kirk's (and other trampers'!) entertainment. With the peak reaching 1324 meters high we knew that we would be in for some pretty epic views, but nothing could prepare our eyes for the breathtaking scenery on offer once we reached the summit. As pictured, we found the perfect picnic spot to enjoy our lunch, soaking up the sunshine and delicious mountain landscapes.
This trail would typically take 6 hours return to complete, however we often found ourselves getting caught up in those "how good is this!?" moments, and taking a detour on the way back down the mountain in search of an off-track waterfall - finding ourselves not returning back home until sun-down.
We can’t thank Tsarina & Greg enough for making us feel like a part of their big warm farm-family, sharing many laughs and stories of travels and learning the kiwi-way. As Greg would say, our time here in Hanmer has been "CHOICE"! Check out our youtube video below of all the good Hanmer times that were had :)