In New Zealand, Adam Henson meets some old friends, helps with a cattle muster and witnesses sheep farming on a breathtaking scale.
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New Zealand is a wonderful place.
With its breathtaking landscapes and strong farming heritage,
it was somewhere I'd always wanted to visit.
Back in 1987, I made the long trip out there
with my good friend, Duncan.
# I am a passenger
# And I ride and I ride... #
We were young, adventurous, fresh out of agricultural college,
and hungry to experience everything New Zealand had to offer.
It didn't disappoint.
# You know it looks so good tonight... #
Now, nearly 30 years later,
I'm revisiting the Land of the Long White Cloud,
keen to remind myself of just what makes New Zealand
one of the most exciting places to farm in the world.
# Sing la-la-la-la la-la-la-la
# La-la-la-la la-la-la-la... #
Once they go, they certainly go!
Along the way, I'll be meeting some old friends...
You used to snore a lot, you know, when you stayed last time.
You used to kick me out of bed to make me go and prune kiwi vines!
..I'll be witnessing farming on a breathtaking scale...
What sort of numbers are we talking about on this farm?
-Wow! That's a lot of sheep to look after.
..I'll get the chance to help out some of the locals...
This is really exciting for me, rounding up cattle
out in the middle of nowhere... It's what dreams are made of really.
I love it!
..I need to quickly find my sea legs...
They put the crayfish into this blue tub here.
I don't know what that was!
Crikey! I thought that was a buoy coming at me!
..and I'm on the hunt for some rare breeds with unbelievable stories.
What's that, there? Look, look.
-What's that? That's a pig, is it? Is it a pig?
-So lucky to see him. So lucky to see him.
# La-la-la-la la-la-la-la
# La-la-la-la la-la-la-la. #
For a country that's roughly the same
size as the UK, New Zealand's population of a little more than
4.5 million people means there's plenty of open country to explore.
On my last trip here, Duncan and I bought a sturdy,
if a little unreliable, Austin 1100, and hit the road.
This time, I'm far better equipped.
In 1987, one of our first stops was on North island,
in the aptly named Bay Of Plenty.
And that's where I'm heading now.
It's so good to be back in New Zealand.
And the Bay Of Plenty here is famed for its perfect growing conditions.
It's warm all year round, with lots of sunshine and rainfall,
and rich, deep soils.
So, perfect for growing grass, but also lots of different fruit
and veg too.
And that's why Duncan and I thought here would be a good place to
pick up some labouring work.
Our point of contact was a local dairy farmer,
a guy called John Cameron.
And he found us a month's work pruning kiwi vines.
I thought I was going to be milking dairy cows.
Anyway, it was great fun. And JC, as his mates call him,
became a good friend and now I'm really looking forward to
catching up with him back on his farm, all these years later.
How are you keeping, mate?
-Haven't seen you for ages!
-Great to see you!
-Yeah, you too.
-What a place you've got now!
Yeah, it's bloody brilliant, isn't it?
-When did you build this?
-Erm, ten years ago, we started.
And we obviously were in the old home,
we used to snore a lot when you came and stayed last time.
You used to kick me out of bed to make me go and prune kiwi vines.
-So, you've still got cows.
When I was here last, you had two farms.
-Milking, what, 1,000 cows, or something?
-Yes, that's correct.
Now, we're sort of diversing into sort of I guess other land
uses, which is kiwi fruit at this stage, yeah.
-You're growing kiwi fruit yourself now?
-Yes, thank you very much.
You used to take the mickey out of those kiwi growers!
I have to say that I never thought I'd ever do it, you know?
But economics is doing that, land use etc, so time to do it.
Well, the view has changed dramatically.
It was all open pasture and thousands of cows.
And now, there's all these trees and sort of shelter belts everywhere.
Luckily, in the Bay Of Plenty, we've got that chance to do that.
-So it's all good.
-I'd quite like to get back down into the kiwi
-Yeah, I'd love to show you. Yes, I'd love to show you.
-Some sweet memories!
-Yeah, yeah. Well, good to see you.
When I was last here,
kiwi fruit were still seen as an exotic crop to grow.
Pruning them earned Duncan and me
some much needed cash to fund our travels.
Today, the fruit is big business. The plantations are vast.
Pollination takes place on an industrial scale.
And pruning is a full-time job.
Nathan Birt manages JC's kiwi orchards.
This takes me back.
And I have to say, 20 years, 27 years on,
that was one of your claims to fame here.
I'd like you to give them a go, at least, mate.
Can I still remember...?
So when we were pruning kiwi vines, it was in the winter months.
And I think we were taking out the deadwood. But it's all growing now.
So, basically now, we've gone through flowering,
so these males, with the male flowers, aren't needed any more.
So what we're doing is trying to rein them
back in and get the shade off the females,
and also get good production for flower for next season for the male.
The gross fruit production now, instead of being at 5,000
trays back once upon a time when you were here, 10,000 now is the normal.
Wow! That's serious!
So it's around Nathan's ability to exercise
and get new methods that we're consistently trying to get
better and better at what we're doing.
-Moving things on.
Now, around a third of all kiwi fruits are grown in New Zealand.
Most them here in the Bay Of Plenty.
But it's not just kiwis that JC's started to grow.
Avocados in the UK are now outselling oranges
and they're just as popular in this part of the world.
There's a lot of fruit on here.
It's great to see fruit on there, believe me,
cos it can be difficult to grow them.
Any severe weather conditions
from now onwards after budding is done, you can lose the fruit,
so it's quite rewarding and it's very economic, over and above cows.
So, are you a dairy farmer, or are you a businessman?
Hand on heart, I'd say that I'm a dairy farmer,
but I would have to say I'm a businessperson as well
and I'm not going to say no to anything, as you know.
I said no to kiwi fruit 27 years ago, but things change.
Well, I'd love to come back in another ten years
-and see what you're up to, JC.
-Ten years is too long, mate.
-You've got to come sooner than that. Please.
-I will, I promise you.
It's been really interesting to catch up with JC.
The farm has certainly changed since I was last here...
-See you again.
..but JC is just as I remember him.
I'm leaving the fertile soils of the Bay Of Plenty
and driving south towards the volcanic centre of North Island.
Farmers in New Zealand have long had a reputation for being
When I was last here, sheep farming ruled,
but since then, numbers have dropped significantly
and other livestock have filled the gap in the market.
Deer aren't native to New Zealand, and over the years
these wild animals have caused environmental damage,
but with the popularity of venison soaring, farming them
is becoming increasingly popular, but it's not always been that way.
Here at the government-owned Rangitaiki Station,
I'm meeting farmer Murray Matuschka, who is going to tell me more.
Murray, when deer were brought to New Zealand back in 1900,
presumably they loved it here.
Well, it was amazing.
These deer arrived at a situation where there was so much grass,
you know. And so they just thrived. They just got out of control.
-Did they go to sort of epidemic proportions?
-Oh, hell, yeah.
They chewed the bush out and all the tussock was gone.
So the government deployed cullers. And they shot thousands of them.
At first, the deer were hunted on foot.
But soon, helicopters were used to devastating effect.
But as the numbers of wild deer were gradually brought under control,
marksmen and pilots adapted their skills to catch live animals
to supply farms.
By the 1980s, large scale deer farming in New Zealand
was in full swing.
And big money had started to change hands for these captured creatures.
That was an amazing time of our lives. You'll never see that again.
All of a sudden, all this money poured into the country.
-I think there was about 15 helicopters.
-Catching live deer.
And they'd take them to a sale
and you'd get 3,000 bucks for a wild deer.
I remember taking five to a sale and coming home with 25,000.
That was big money.
So, once the deer were caught and farmed,
being typical New Zealanders, you took it to the next level.
We used to get a hind at about 85 to 90 kilos,
we thought that was amazing.
But now, they're 120. And the fawns are getting bigger.
They're just going so well.
It seems to me that when you New Zealanders see an opportunity,
you certainly know how to grab it.
Oh, we do! Yeah! We do.
New Zealand has now become the largest exporter of farmed
venison in the world.
The Rangitaiki Station is not only the biggest deer
farm in New Zealand, but the biggest in the southern hemisphere.
Sam Bunny is the station manager.
-Ah, you must be Sam.
-I'm Adam, good to see you.
-All right, really good. This is an amazing setup.
-What are you doing in here?
-These are our two-year-old stags
and the vet's just here giving them a health check before sale,
and they'll be getting sold in the next couple of months.
And I understand you've got the biggest herd in the country.
Yeah, Rangitaiki runs about 7,500 commercial hinds.
-Thousands of them!
-Keeps us busy, yeah.
So when you've got all the hinds and all the fawns
and all the stags, what does that add up to?
On any given sort of summer,
we might have about 14,000 or 15,000 deer running round Rangitaiki, yeah.
Wow! Serious operation.
What are you focusing on then to improve the deer?
We've got the deer stud here, so genetically,
we're working on their breeding values, which is
traits around growth rates and carcass weights.
Trying to get them to grow fast
so we can get the venison production up.
A lot of focus around pasture management.
So just eating grass is better, growing more grass,
and the more grass we can grow and the better that grass is,
then the more profitable and the better our business will be.
Well, it's fascinating to see how you guys work out here
and how you think.
Beautiful looking deer. How are they, Andrew? All clear?
-Yeah, they're all clear. Good to go.
-Let's leave them to settle down.
There's good boys.
-They've got some size about them, haven't they?
Once they go, they certainly go!
-It's certainly a lot quicker than moving sheep about.
VOICEOVER: You have hand it to the Kiwis -
these farmers certainly know how to turn
opportunities into moneymaking businesses.
And I know, when it comes to farming,
New Zealand is very different to back home.
But what really sets them apart, from what I've seen so far,
is their attitude.
My next stop is the Hawkes Bay region, where I'm meeting
a farmer who epitomises this Kiwi can-do attitude.
I'm heading east, into the forest, looking for Te Wae Wae,
an isolated farm, located on the edge of the beautiful Mohaka River.
Wow! What a magnificent view!
I've been driving along this forest road for about an hour now.
And apparently, this was all farmland at one time
and then it was planted to this vast pine forest.
Now, my directions say that I should go along the road
until I start feeling lost and then just keep going.
Well, I certainly feel lost, so I suppose I'd better keep going.
Fortunately, the miles of trees begin to give way to pasture.
Back in 1967, Ian Brickle purchased his first farm with his wife,
What's remarkable is at the age of 78, Ian's still farming,
now at this remote location that's hours off the beaten track.
-Hi, Ian! Good to see you.
-Pleased to meet you, Adam.
Goodness me! You're a tough man to find.
I was coming all the way through the forest and
I thought I was lost and then got to your farm. What a remote spot!
-It is remote, I agree, but that's the way I like it.
And you're 78. How do you manage, farming here?
I honestly believe that you grow unfit more than you grow old.
As long as you can keep your fitness and obviously,
if you've got good health, then yeah, you just keep going.
So, what are you farming here? I see livestock everywhere.
Well, we've got 600 breeding ewes,
we've got 83 Welsh Black cows.
And I also breed horses.
Wonderful. So, can we go and take a look at your Welsh Black cattle?
Today, Ian needs to muster his cattle from the mountain
to do some routine checks in the handling pens.
His grandson, Jacob,
and his team of working dogs are on hand to help out.
Right. Goodness me, how many dogs have you got?
We've got six here, six working dogs and a Jack Russell.
-Wow! And you control them all at once?
-Try to, yeah.
-Do my best!
-And what are they? Huntaways, I recognise.
Yep, huntaways and heading dogs.
-So the heading dog is a bit like our Border collie, is it?
And how many cattle have we got to gather then?
-How many is there altogether?
-And if I'm in the wrong place, just shout at me.
The tranquillity is about to be broken.
BARKING AND WHISTLING
Goodness me, Ian! Those huntaways can really go, can't they?
Jacob's a really good young shepherd.
He's probably mature beyond his years,
when it comes to his dogs. He's got very good dogs.
So the black and white ones are the heading dogs,
-to get around in front and round them up.
And then a huntaway hunts them away up the mountain.
That's correct, Adam.
And why do you love this wild country so much?
What is it in you that makes you want to be out here?
We're miles from anywhere.
I can't answer that. I guess it's my genetic make-up or something.
But I just love the wild places. Always have done.
And were all of these calves born outdoors?
Or do you have to bring them into the sheds out here?
We don't have sheds, Adam. No, no.
My cows calf completely on their own, unassisted, no problems.
And is that part of your mantra, part of what you want to try
and achieve, a cow that looks after itself?
I think it's part of the New Zealand hill country farming.
We've looked to breed a type of animal that are perfectly
-capable of looking after themselves.
-Low cost animal, really.
-Yep, and low input from our point of view.
They don't have to pamper them.
But the Welshies are brilliant at surviving on rough grass,
they really are.
It's great to see traditional British breeds still thriving here.
How popular are the Welsh cattle?
Not as popular as they should be, Adam.
But let me say, I have tried all those breeds out, Angus, Hereford,
Shorthorn, Charolais, and the Welsh leave them for dead, in my opinion.
I've judged Welsh Black cattle once actually, and really like them.
And I'm half Welsh. So, you know, I'm feeling quite patriotic.
Well, that's the young cattle through the first gate.
There's still quite a long way to go.
I said to Ian, "Shall I go back and get the buggy?"
And he said, "No, no. I'll go. I'll just run down."
And he literally meant "run down".
He's headed off down the hill like a mountain goat.
This guy is 78. It's quite remarkable!
We're just chasing these cattle up here now.
Jacob's still working his dogs and moving them along nicely.
The herd have split a bit. Some have gone along the track
and then the others are going down this really steep hill.
Just remarkable really.
This is really exciting for me.
You know, coming back to New Zealand and rounding up cattle.
Out in the middle of nowhere. It's what dreams are made of really.
I love it!
The cattle are being rounded up for an annual TB test.
In New Zealand, in 1990, the percentage of cattle with TB
was about seven times greater than in Britain.
But by 2011, it was about 40 times less.
I'm keen to know how they've achieved this incredible
reduction, as back home, my animals have suffered with TB for decades.
Michelle Murphy is an animal technician
and TB testing is her full-time job.
Michelle, over here, you've managed to reduce your prevalence
of TB in the herds very dramatically, haven't you?
How have you succeeded doing that?
-Controlling the infected wildlife.
-Which wildlife are you controlling?
Possums. Field deer.
Ferrets. Wild pigs.
Anything that can carry or spread TB.
-And so they're all non-native species.
-And do they cause damage out in the environment as well?
-Is that why they're considered as pests?
-Yes, they do.
The possums ruin the native trees and birdlife.
And how much TB will be in this area now?
Er, very little, if any.
We've got a similar problem at home, but the vectors,
the animals in the wild that carry TB, particularly badgers,
have been in our country for centuries, if not thousands
of years, so they're a native species, very symbolic to Britain.
And there's a huge amount of controversy over culling them,
although the government has taken that decision,
but also, we are TB-testing our herds.
So it's really difficult for us to get on top of it.
But interesting how you've managed it over here,
-you've been really robust about it, haven't you?
Thankfully, this herd was later given the all clear.
Testing is a stressful process for the cattle, so we release them
as quick as we can and drive them towards some fresh mountain pasture.
Well, it's been about a ten-hour day and we're still climbing up
the hills and I'm starting to fade, but Ian's still going strong here!
I have to say, Ian, I'm so jealous of the place you live
and work, your wonderful cattle.
This farm's just extraordinary!
I know I'm truly blessed, Adam. I know that.
But I've got a wonderful wife. She's been very supportive too.
And I've still got my health. I've got no reason to stop.
-And I certainly don't want to stop.
-And you've got lots of children,
grandchildren too, all following in your footsteps.
We've got seven children and 24 grandchildren and yeah,
there's a bit of talent starting to show up amongst the grandkids too.
Well, that's just good breeding on your part, isn't it?
I wouldn't say that! Maybe they get it from their mother.
Well, I have to say, Ian,
this is a day that I'll remember for a very long time.
Oh, that's lovely, Adam. I hope you've enjoyed yourselves.
It's been great.
Oh, that's good. That's good. It's a pretty special place.
Ian's farm was my last stop on North Island.
After a couple of days in the wilderness,
it's strange being back on the road and seeing so many cars.
And the weather's not making the driving any easier.
But four hours later, and with the weather looking up,
I reach my destination.
I've just arrived in Wellington in the North Island, about to catch
the ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton in the South Island.
And it's pretty blustery today. I hope it's not going to be too rough.
Right, I'd better get checked in.
I know from experience the Cook Strait between North
and South Island can be a notoriously choppy stretch of water.
The last time my pal Duncan and I made this crossing,
the weather was far from kind.
Luckily, today, the high winds amount only to a light swell.
Only part of the three-hour journey is on the open sea, so it's not long
before we're cruising down the calm waters of Queen Charlotte Sound.
With the ferry docked in the port of Picton, it's time to disembark.
This brings back memories.
The last time I was getting off this ferry, our old Austin had
a flat battery, so I had to push while Dunc jump-started it.
But where I'm heading next, I won't need a car.
I'm boarding another boat, heading back out into the sounds.
The calmer waters here have long been a haven for sailors
seeking refuge from treacherous seas,
including intrepid British explorer Captain James Cook,
who in 1770 was the first European commander to sail through it.
Cook and his crew soon discovered New Zealand wasn't like any
place they had ever seen.
It appeared to have no native mammals
and the country was dominated by birds.
But Cook was about to change that, with the introduction to
New Zealand of one of its first farm animals, an old English goat.
Incredibly, almost 250 years later, wild descendants of these
first goats can still be found on the isolated island of Arapaoa.
And that's where I'm heading,
in the hope of seeing one of these elusive creatures.
For the journey, I've got myself a great skipper.
And to tell me more, rare breed expert Michael Willis has joined me.
He's as passionate as I am about protecting heritage livestock.
So we're going to look for these goats. Tell me about them.
Cook always carried goats on board.
Particularly English goats cos they're tougher.
They kept them for milk for the officers
and they also kept them to liberate them,
it was standard practice to let goats and pigs
and fowl go on remote areas, remote islands like this,
so a source of food for when they came back again.
Quite standard practice.
So when they returned, there'd be food,
-ready-made, on the island for them.
In 1773 and 1777,
Cook made two voyages to Arapaoa Island with animals on board.
Amongst his special travellers were the ancestors of the goats
we're looking for.
Cook released some of the goats on to the island.
More than 50 years later, in 1839, a visitor to the island
wrote in his diary that it was swarmed with goats.
Today, this breed is critically close to extinction.
It's pretty extraordinary, isn't it, here we are all these years later,
with an ancient British breed that its safe haven
is on a New Zealand island?
It's almost an ark of genetics.
I wonder what the natives thought of these white men turning up
with these weird animals - a goat, that they'd never seen before.
Yeah, I think they actually were terrified to start with.
But they soon realised the benefit of the goats
and the Maori chief put a protection order on the goats.
So that showed the respect they had for them.
But Cook, his crew, and animals were not always welcome.
Maori people sometimes forcibly resisted the European settlers.
Skipper Peter Beach has a ruthless story to tell me.
While Cook was here, a number of his men came down with scurvy.
He sent ten men to look for wild celery,
as an antiscorbutic medicine.
They didn't come back that day.
The following day, Cook came around the corner here
-and you see the beach up there?
There was a whole lot of people milling around
and they said it looked like a carnival atmosphere.
And they went ashore and they found 20 baskets full of meat.
And they went up and checked these baskets out.
And they were able to identify the remains of their shipmates
by the tattoos on the forearms of their men.
-So they were going to eat them?
-Yeah. It was a carnival.
-Goodness me! Horrible! Horrible!
There's some little dolphins just here.
About six or eight of them. Wow!
There's two there that have got small ones next to them,
little babies. I think these are dusky dolphins, they call them.
Just hope we manage to get a glimpse of the goats now.
On a sunny day like today, it's likely the goats are keeping
cool in the shade, so they're going to be hard to spot.
But it's not long before we see something.
-Sheep. So there's a breed of sheep here too.
-So, where did they originate from?
-Nobody's really sure,
but the recent DNA research shows that
the nearest sheep that they look like
they belong to are some kept by North American Indians,
up the North American coast.
And they were reputed to come from Spain in the 1500s.
-So sort of Navajo sheep, something like that?
-Yes, exactly. Exactly.
-Something like that.
-So that's the nearest link.
It's interesting how wildlife often link where people travel.
Yeah, that connection with livestock and people
and history is very entwined, isn't it?
Absolutely, very entwined. And you can trace people's migration to the
livestock that they carry with them.
-And they're enjoying that person's lawn there.
-Oh, they are!
No goats yet though. Let's keep looking.
What's that there? Look. What's that?
-Just to the left of the tree there?
-Yeah, yeah. That's a pig, is it?
-Is it a pig?
-Yeah, it's a pig.
It's a pig. You're lucky to see a pig!
-It's quite a big one too.
-You hardly ever see them.
Yeah, that's an Arapaoa pig.
-Considered one of New Zealand's feature rare breeds.
-So lucky to see that. So lucky to see it.
So that's a definite breed then, recognised as an Arapaoa pig.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Nobody knows
whether they're the pigs that Captain Cook let go.
Their DNA shows that they're European,
so they would have come out
a long time ago. Their real history? Not sure.
It's great to have seen the sheep and the pigs,
but I've come a long way to see the Arapaoa goat. It's getting towards
the end of the day and we're just about to give up hope, when...
There's one! There's one! On the beach!
On the beach! At least we've seen ONE!
-That's amazing! Really is amazing.
I remember my dad used to have some goats that he called
Old English goats, and they were very similar to that.
Almost identical, in fact.
There's something moving around in the bushes up there, look.
Have a quick look.
I can see, yeah, more goats. There's a nanny and some kids there.
This is easy! There's loads of them!
There's not, actually! We've seen more than our share.
There must be a dozen goats there.
They're all following each other up the track.
So, on a normal day, if you came out,
how regular is it to spot them like this?
I've been up this coast several times,
I've been here looking for pigs, with probably 12 people
and dogs, for three or four days,
never found a pig, never saw a pig.
-And now we're seeing one just like that.
And now we've seen all the goats too.
And I've been on the coast looking for goats and never seen them,
so this is special. This is a really special day.
-Well, what a treat.
Knowing how elusive these goats can be, Michael wasn't going to let me
travel from the other side of the world without seeing some up close.
So, he's arranged to have a couple of domestic Arapaoa
goats on standby.
Look what we've got here!
Some Arapaoa goats.
This is the first time I've ever touched an Arapaoa goat.
A true Old English, delivered by Captain Cook himself.
And reasonable milk, but plenty of meat,
so you can understand why Captain Cook left them and then knowing
that people might return and then there was a ready source of food.
-Yeah, they are a meaty goat.
-And a hardy goat.
And this is the backbone of agriculture here in New Zealand.
-It's how it all started, isn't it?
It's really quite an amazing story and as you say, it is
the birth of a nation, their colonisation, the release of these
animals into the country, the effect on the country, and so it goes on.
So it's really very much the story of New Zealand.
I think they deserve their place, don't they?
They need to be conserved and looked after.
They deserve their place, they certainly do.
These little goats may have played a major role in allowing
Europeans to get a foothold, but within 30 years of Captain Cook's
arrival, settlers were turning their sights to much bigger creatures.
Whaling in New Zealand was eventually banned in 1968.
But the haunting remains of the country's biggest whaling
station still clings to Arapaoa's shore.
Amazingly, some whaling families still live on the island.
I'm meeting Joe Hebley and his wife Heather.
Joe is the last of five generations of his family to hunt
out in the strait.
Just describe how it worked here, then, in the bay.
As soon as a whale was spotted, the Union Jack flag would go up
the pole over there, and that was to tell the factory to get steam up,
there was a whale spotted.
And then the mother ship would take off, and the three chasers.
So the mother ship was to bring the dead whale back into the factory?
When a whale came up to breathe,
-you could see them underwater, the dark...
..and you'd get as close as you can and then bang!
That's the harpoon that went down the barrel of the gun.
So that would be in a gun that you would pull the trigger
-and that would fire out into the whale?
Oh, there's some weight about it, isn't there?!
Were there ever any accidents with these things, Heather?
There was, in the early 1940s.
Joe's father had been working in the whaling station,
and a young guy was manning the gun on a chaser,
and he fired it and the actual gun
blew back in in his face
-and he was killed virtually instantly.
And the next day, Joe's dad had to go out
and be behind the same gun, same boat, do it all again,
-and that was the start of his whaling career...
-..on a boat and not the factory.
-And how do you feel about it now, Joe?
Because it must have been pretty horrific. They're big mammals.
Well, it was damn cruel, but that's how it was done.
-And now you have gone from hunter, turned conservationist.
We spotted the whales for the Department of Conservation,
and it was great to be, you know, involved in that.
When you see the scale of what happened here, it's clear
why the conservation of these creatures is now so important.
Between 1911 and 1964,
more than 5,000 humpback whales alone were killed in New Zealand -
many here in the Cook Strait.
Falling prices and competition from foreign fleets finally
brought the industry to an end.
However, the Hebley family are still determined to make
a living from the sea.
Joe's son, James, is the sixth generation to work these waters,
but his prize catch is something a little smaller.
I've been invited on board his vessel.
James, this is pretty intense. What are you after here, then?
Crayfish. New Zealand crayfish.
What's it like, having a dad who was a whaler?
-I'm very envious.
-You'd have liked to have gone into that trade?
Oh, yeah. For sure.
What made you feel like you would have liked to have done it, then?
Oh, just the thrill of the chase, I suppose.
I enjoy hunting, so...
I enjoy the sea and fishing,
so I'd say it would be right up my alley.
And you're brilliant at handling this boat.
I suppose that comes with generations, does it?
Grandpa taught Dad, and Dad taught me,
and I'm teaching Ethan now, so...
Catching crayfish is a skilled operation.
When the time is right, Ethan launches a hook to catch
a line that's attached to a crayfish cage.
It's a long way down. How deep is it, James?
-What's that in metres?
-I don't know. You tell me.
There we go.
VOICEOVER: The line is winched out of the water,
pulling up the cage from the reef below.
Unwanted catch is returned to the ocean.
Crayfish are put to one side, and the traps are loaded with new bait
and sent back to the ocean floor.
These are full of fish that attracts the crayfish into the pots.
They can smell it.
And then they go down inside, crawl down inside to get to the fish,
and then they get stuck inside this netted cage.
James is just now looking on his echo sounder to find the best
spot now to reset the trap.
And away you go.
You wouldn't want to get wrapped up in that rope!
You'd end up down at the bottom of the sea.
The crayfish are measured to make sure they're big enough.
The process needs to be sustainable, so anything too small gets returned.
Once they've lifted the pots,
they put the crayfish into this blue tub here...
I don't know what that was! His hat, was it?
Was that your hat? LAUGHTER
Crikey! OK, sorry.
I thought that was a buoy coming at me!
The right size crayfish end up in
a container of seawater, to keep them alive.
Can I have one?
Here we are, this is what they're after.
The New Zealand crayfish.
These get exported, live, to China by plane.
Apparently they're worth about 140.
I better not drop it.
This is pretty serious out here.
We're just going around, picking up a few lobster pots.
Imagine if you were out here on a whaling boat, chasing after
a 50-foot whale with a massive great spear gun on the front.
It would be so exhilarating, but at the same time fairly terrifying,
and in today's world, pretty gruesome, too.
In the world of sea fishing, this is a calm day, but for me, it's
a relief when we head back to the sheltered waters of the sounds.
The remarkable people and animals here on Arapaoa are a real
testament to the pioneering spirit of many New Zealanders.
My time here has come to an end.
I'm on board skipper Pete's boat again, heading back to the mainland.
Luckily, the sun is shining and I'm able to take in the amazing scenery.
It's been a glorious day, just off Arapaoa Island
here in New Zealand.
But I wonder what the weather's doing back home.
Let's find out, with the Countryfile forecast for the week ahead.
I'm in New Zealand, retracing a journey I made here with
one of my best friends, Duncan, almost 30 years ago.
Starting in North Island, I've gradually been making my way south.
Well, thanks very much, Peter. It's been absolutely brilliant.
Along the way,
I've been constantly reminded that rural life here is every
bit as challenging and exhilarating as it was on my last trip.
But although New Zealand's vast wilderness lends itself to
adventure, there are dangers which can stop you in your tracks.
Earthquakes are common here. The day before I arrived
in New Zealand, one struck, devastating parts of the
South Island and causing mass destruction
to buildings and infrastructure.
My plans have changed a bit, because I was supposed to be
heading down to a farm near Kaikoura, but that's where the
earthquake hit recently, and there's a lot of damage
to the buildings and roads.
So now I'm heading to a sheep farm where things are supposed to
be a bit safer. But just take a look at this.
This is evidence of the earthquake, where the road has collapsed
and there's been a landslip.
And also, they're now talking about more aftershock quakes.
This is all a bit worrying, really.
So I'm now heading to a farm near the small coastal
village of Havelock, in the Marlborough region.
Romney sheep thrive in this area.
It's a breed I farm at home.
But the New Zealand Romneys are renowned for being
a better all-round animal.
I'm getting involved in a sheep muster,
and I'm hoping to find out what they do differently here.
Hi, Bill. Good to see you.
Bill Brownlee and his family have always farmed this breed.
Well, it's not a bad spot, is it?
No, no, it's not a bad spot here, I'd have to say that.
And did you feel the earthquakes recently?
Certainly did. The first one was probably the strongest I have felt.
-Is it scary?
-It makes you wonder when it's going to stop. Yes.
-And if you're out on the field, say working on the farm,
can you feel it out here?
I can't say I have, but if you're in a vehicle
and stopped or in a house, you certainly do.
And how long have your family farmed around here, then?
-We've been here for over 100 years.
I understand that pretty much half of the sheep in New Zealand,
-if not more, are Romneys now.
-That's right, yeah.
Because of their versatility, I guess.
I mean, back home, they obviously come from the Romney Marshes,
and they're fondly known as the "Kent sheep".
It's flat land, very marshy, and here they are in New Zealand,
-roaming around up on the mountains.
-But this isn't your farm, is it?
-No, it's not.
This belongs to Paul and Muff Newton, who are away,
and Grant, the stockman, wondered if I could come over and give him
-a hand to shift some of them.
-So, can I give you a hand?
You certainly can. A bit of free labour from the other side
-of the world?
We head into the mountains where the muster is well under way.
Come on! HE WHISTLES
We need to move the flock onto another hillside where there's
plenty of fresh pasture.
Back home, our average flock size would be a lot smaller than
here in New Zealand.
What sort of numbers are we talking about on this farm?
5,000 breeding ewes on this property.
-Where some of the farms are bigger, you've got 10,000-15,000.
-That's a lot of sheep to look after!
It makes my 700 look like peanuts. Goodness me!
-It's just small-time for you.
I know! Yeah, we're just playing at it.
-And it is about those economies of scale, isn't it?
That's why you can produce lambs so cheaply?
-That's right, yeah.
-But my lamb would still taste nicer,
-Oh, I don't think so!
And what makes these Romneys so suitable to New Zealand?
-Good wool, good lambs.
-And is that something
that's been developed through selection,
the way the New Zealanders farm?
I guess it's... Over the years, the genetics have improved.
So you've selectively bred for sheep that can survive,
-that look after themselves?
-They do, yeah.
They're not mollycoddled like the ones in the UK.
And they live off this green stuff,
-rather than feeding them sheep nuts and grain.
Goodness me, Bill. Is this earthquake damage?
I guess it's had a bit of a shake
and the water's got in behind it.
-And caused the slip?
-And caused the slip, yes.
I remember seeing that bit on the news with those Hereford
-cattle caught on the top of that landslip. Incredible.
-Yeah, it is.
Yeah, no, they were very lucky.
Well, I think they all look very happy out on that fresh pasture,
-I think they'll appreciate that all right.
And this grassland management over here is very particular, isn't it?
Yes, you've got to keep it under, under control,
stop it getting too long.
When the grass is shorter, it's full of sugars, isn't it?
-It is, yes.
-More palatable and more nutritious for the sheep.
-It is, yeah.
-I notice that you've got the hill here blocked up,
so you can keep moving them around,
and the same with the dairy cattle in these paddocks.
-Managing the grass.
One thing I've learned on my journey so far is that New Zealanders
don't do things by halves.
Down on Bill's farm, his fertiliser pile is, well, pretty substantial.
Well, this is one of the secrets of keeping the countryside green.
-What is it, then, Bill?
-It's mussel shells.
And this is the...
When they arrive here, the mussel shell,
-with the green-lipped mussel shell.
And then we crush it up into, like, a lime product.
And so the lime is crushed
-and produces nutrients for the soil, does it?
-Helps the grass grow?
-It does, yeah, and it's got a lot of nutrients
-in the shell.
-Especially in the membrane alone.
And how do you spread it up on the top of those hills?
You can't get a tractor up there.
Oh, it's a bit of a secret, we can't really tell you that.
Come on, I'm going to push you for an answer.
Luckily, Bill agrees to tell me, so I'm off to a nearby farm.
I've been told to bring my earplugs and expect mayhem.
But when I arrive, the setting couldn't be more tranquil.
I'm not sure I'm in the right place.
But, all of a sudden...
This process, called top dressing,
was started in the 1940s. Returning World War II fighter pilots,
who were keen to keep flying, developed ways to fertilise
steep and inaccessible hillsides using small aircraft.
I arrived in this field, and it was a lovely serene environment
with bees and skylarks singing, and then the plane turned up
and the loader turned up,
and now it's all kicked off and they're full at work.
It's just remarkable. I've never seen anything like it.
The plane comes in, the hatch opens on top of the plane,
the loader goes in, the fertiliser is
dumped into the top of the plane, and away he goes again.
There's no messing around here.
That's it. He's fully loaded. Take-off!
-The turnaround - comes in, lands, loads and gone.
A matter of minutes, isn't it?
Yeah, well, when you're paying the amount of money that we charge,
-it needs to be done fairly quickly.
Terry Nuttall has worked in this industry for more than 20 years.
-We are a grass-growing country.
Our meat and wool guys wholly and solely, really, rely on growing
grass, and by fertilising it, we get grass growth
pretty well all year round.
I suppose you can use tractors down on the flatland like here,
but it needs a plane to be able to get that fertiliser onto the hills,
which there's a lot of in New Zealand.
There are, there are a lot of hills,
and that's why we have a lot of aeroplanes putting
-fertiliser on them.
-Pretty scary, being up in the plane, is it?
How long's the pilot been flying?
I think he started flying in 1966 or so.
-So about 50 years of experience?
-About 50 years.
So he knows what he's doing.
He's still doing it, so obviously he does.
LAUGHTER Looking at the landing strip here,
I imagined it to be like a bowling green -
you know, mown and clean and marked out.
-It's just a field.
And when he comes in, he bounces in and then comes into the loader.
That was a pretty smooth landing, that one.
You know, one in ten is not too bad, is it?
In my visit here, it's just reminded me
of that New Zealand attitude of "can-do", "go get it", "push on".
It's like you're still breaking the country in.
We've always been a nation of can-dos.
And I suppose that freedom from legislation has allowed you
to really get on and develop areas for agriculture.
We've been extremely fortunate, I suppose, that it
has been recognised that we need to have the freedom to develop.
And we still do, probably, have a
lot more freedom than lots of countries do. Which is a good thing.
I mean, it's the only way that we probably survive.
And it does look beautifully green.
There's a lot of grass growing right up on the tops.
It's been a good spring for us for growing grass. It really has.
You look up there on the hill and you watch what's going on
and you think,
"my God, yeah, there'll be some fat animals coming off there."
Yeah. You'll be sending them all the way over to my supermarket shelves.
-I can't be doing with that.
-The best meat that you will ever have.
I'll have to agree to disagree on that point.
But I do take my hat off to Kiwi farmers.
They're a competitive bunch.
And finding ways to get the most out of their patch of land has
made them a force to be reckoned with
for farmers all over the world.
My time in New Zealand is drawing to a close.
I've been on an incredible journey.
It's amazing how far farming has progressed
in such a relatively short space of time.
Since those early arrivals of livestock,
it's gone from strength to strength.
Returning all these years later,
I've been reminded that the pioneering spirit of those
first settlers is still very much alive and well.
I'm in complete awe of this country, its people,
and their positive forward-thinking attitude.
It's been a real privilege to witness it first-hand.
This week on Countryfile, Adam Henson is in New Zealand to find out what makes it one of the most exciting places to farm. Along the way, he meets some old friends, helps with a cattle muster like no other, witnesses sheep farming on a breathtaking scale and goes on the hunt for a rare goat breed with an unbelievable story.