There was a right-proper shin-dig at Cornerstone Alpaca Stud recently with the official opening of their ‘new’ old barn.
“It is now a place where visitors can get close to, feed and hug an alpaca,” says manager Herman Van Niekerk.
Renovations started in May and took four months to complete.
“The friendships that have been made and the personal touches from everybody that will live on through this old building means the world to us.”
While it was thought the barn was the former dairy from the middle of Gordonton – being moved to Peach Rd in the early 60s – it turns out that wasn’t the case, according to Waikino resident Helen Wilson who, with husband John, used to own the farm.
“We built that barn back in the 70s and the windows came from Robbie Ward’s old shop when it was demolished to make way for the new shop. We built it to house our collection of old gigs, carts etc and in the upstairs we had smaller antiques. It was built by Kestle Engineering with our help. It’s lovely to see that the couple who now have it could see the potential and have turned it into a shop.”
Alpaca Cornerstone owners Dave and Sonja Blom have farmed alpacas since 2006 and began farm visits to their Peach Rd property in 2014, where they also provide information to potential farmers as well as sell alpacas and a range of alpaca products.
“We love our ‘new’ barn,” Dave told assembled guests last week.
“It will make it possible to stay dry and warm during the wet winter months. We can hold sessions inside and there is also a small fenced seating area outside where people can enjoy the alpacas in their natural habitat.”
Dave was elected as the president of the North Island Alpaca Association Committee just months ago. During the day he runs a dental practice in Rototuna and lives, sleeps and breaths alpaca in his spare time.
The Bloms met their first alpacas at the NZ Agricultural Fieldays, not long after arriving from South Africa in 2005. It was love at first sight.
“We were fascinated by them. Like many other newcomers to alpacas, we undertook nearly a year of research, before taking the plunge and buying four pregnant females and a baby. There is something magical about seeing the miracle of a new-born alpaca take its first steps in life.”
From that start they have built the herd up to 80 alpacas on their 10 acres and ‘have never looked back.’
They have purchased high-quality Peruvian and Chilean huacaya stud males, imported champion Australian and US bloodlines, and are developing their own pedigree herd sires – Cornerstone Alpacas.
“Other sires are sourced from outside our stud to ensure we have a diverse genetic pool,” says Dave who was also a cattle stud farmer back in South Africa.
Sonja is an artist and discovered felting in 2010. She started by using their own alpaca fibre, and now sells her designer range – Alpaca Bejeweled – in the farm shop and elsewhere.
But getting back to alpacas, says Dave. “Really, who could resist these guys?”
Alpacas go beyond adorable-
- They have a beautiful, luxurious fibre, historically known as the ‘fibre of the gods’ – it used to be only available to royalty,
- Alpaca is softer than wool and believed to have superior warmth and tensile strength – some say it is 3x warmer than sheep wool. And it’s hyper allergenic,
- Alpacas come in more than 22 different colours, ranging from white, black and brown to any shade in between,
- They don’t bite, their feet have soft pads which don’t churn up the earth they way hard cow hooves do.
And they nibble off the top of plants, rather than pulling it out by the root,
- Finally, they establish a few communal spots for their poop – which makes killer compost.
However, he had to concede that these South American natives do have one other characteristic.
“We cannot tell a lie. Alpacas spit. Mostly at each other, but an owner can get caught in the crossfire. Ask Herman about this.”
Cornerstone Alpacas cater for groups of two to 60.
“We love our animals, thus follows our decision to share our passion with others,” says Dave.
To book a farm visit contact Herman on 027 555 7887 or email here.
Story update! Helen and John Wilson used to own the farm and lived in the house. She says:
“We built that barn back in the 70’s and the windows came from Robbie Wards old shop when it was demolished to make way for the new shop. It was never a shop or a dairy. We built it to house our collection of old gigs, carts etc and in the upstairs we had smaller antiques. It was built by Kestle Engineering with our help. It was our intention to open it as a museum but never happened. We sold off the old machinery when we sold the farm and moved to Waikino.
“It is lovely to see that the couple who now have it could see the potential and have turned it into a shop. Will have to visit one day.”