In case I didn’t realise I was in New Zealand, the first part of the day was dominated by them four-legged creatures. 2500 ewes and their lambs, probably 6000 of the bleaters.

There had been vehicular movement just after 6 am, I was camped adjacent to the farm road, three 4WDs in quick succession from the sound, then just as my porridge came to the boil I spotted the first sheep a few hundred metres up the road, streaming over the pass.

My camp was quickly packed up and moved up the hill 20 m and I ate my porridge watching sheep make their way down the hill, dogs working vigorously, plenty of noise from them all, hundreds, all bleating either for mum, or for a lost lamb, unwilling travellers, the pressure from those moving away from the dogs at the rear causing abrupt and seemingly random motion from those in front.

Luckily my stationary presence was of no consequence. I had a chat with the shepherd; there were more on the way.

The next group was less inclined to exhibit forward progress, but the dogs did their work and they made it past me. Another lot was apparent on the pass, those took their time, plenty of effort in bleating and attempting to return from whence they had come, most of the ewes and lambs were separated with this lot.

A reluctant lot, I said to the guy on a quad bike. He agreed, and he stopped for a yarn to let the flock settle. Often the tailenders just stared at the woofing dogs, face-to-face, more worried by their missing lab, before charging off wherever, often back up the road, dogs in pursuit.

Finally, the coast was clear, and I was able to depart over the pass. It’s 9 15 am.

At the top, a few stragglers, then around the bend, I strike bunch number four.

Huh? Why didn’t he warn me about yet another mob?

I push my way through them and start a stampede back along the road. There are sheep everywhere, but eventually, the dogs do their thing and stop them, and I’m through, climb the bank to avoid more sheep, and notice a guy with a horse and cowboy hat some distance away looking distinctly unimpressed. I sit while the last stragglers make a break for freedom, It’s not my fault this time; a bunch have broken through a fence, the tail-enders distinctly belligerent, like teenagers told to tidy the room.

Eventually, that’s all behind me, and I think how lucky I was that I didn’t continue further yesterday afternoon, or I would’ve had sheep all around.

There were plenty more farm roads to wander along; I had seen there was a DOC campsite on the map and was making for that.

I can report that the Telford campsite is distinguished by simply having a long drop toilet over a fence in an open paddock. Fortunately, just before the fence, still in the farmland, there are some silver beech trees to camp under, not far from the substantial stream. Actually, it’s a great campsite, just not technically official.

Perfect. No problems with water. A soft campsite under a decent spreading tree.

Early-ish, maybe, but I’m sure I won’t need to count sheep to go to sleep tonight.

+++++horizontal rule+++++

A guide to the night’s accommodation: Telford campsite

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