As I look at the hills dotted with baby lambs, I know why springtime in New Zealand is my favourite time of year. A modern country, New Zealand still has the highest density of sheep per unit area in the world. We have significantly more sheep than people. In fact, the country is home to nearly 4.7 million people and 28 million sheep.
Historically, springtime in New Zealand is lambing season. I am not sure why Shakespear Park breeds a bit early. This year is at least the third year in a row that the baby lambs arrived just before spring. On any given day, if it’s not raining, you can find me up in the hills with my camera. Here are my two best shots from the start of this season, plus some baby lamb highlights from past years:
- Aside from being adorable, sheep are vital to New Zealand’s economy. From the mid-1800s to 1987, sheep farming was New Zealand’s most important agricultural industry. Now, dairy farming is number one.
- Most of the photos on this page are from Shakespear Regional Park. It is one of several Auckland Regional Parks that has a sheep breeding and farming program. Shakespear Park is an open bird sanctuary, recently celebrating five years predator free. It is the only mainland home to the Little Spotted Kiwi birds who were released in the park a few months ago.
- It is generally safe to walk through a paddock of sheep, however, watch for “do not enter signs” in some areas during lambing season. If you are allowed entry, remember not to disturb the lambs.
- You will find Shakespear Park at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, north of Auckland. If you have a car, you can easily drive here from Auckland city. Or, you can take a public bus directly to the park from the city. There is a ferry that runs from Auckland to Gulf Harbour, but getting to the park from the marina would be a several kilometre walk.
- Whether you stay out on Whangaparaoa or in Auckland, be sure to check for the best accommodation prices at Booking.com
- If you visit New Zealand, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Lonely Planet’s New Zealand Travel Guide.
- Random Fact: Sheep have only lower teeth.