• Travel Savvy Guide

Van’mad Diaries Animal Sanctuary

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

The Animal Sanctuary

When we embarked on this adventure, the said fact was ‘that theres more sheep in New Zealand than ‘kiwis', however we’ve only met one sheep and his name was Barooshka and he of course was an All Blacks Fan. To be continued...

One of the awesome things to do in the world is called ‘Wwoofing’, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Therefore before embarking on this trip we decided that this was an opportunity we weren’t going to pass up, and also preparing for when we get sick of each other and no conversation is left unturned. After two weeks of having only spoken to one couple due to exploring the very rural parts of Northlands West coast we felt some padding was needed, that’s when we turned to Wwoofing, at The Sanctuary.

The Animal Sanctuary

The Sanctuary take in rescue animals of all shapes and sizes, what an awesome opportunity!

We volunteered here for two weeks and were truly taken in like family, i’d just like to take the time for a shout out, and say thank you very much for opening our minds, teaching us a whole new way of life and about New Zealand nature, the animal sanctuary will truly stay with us forever, thanks very much. It is with a tear that we leave but New Zealand is calling and with many exciting adventures and opportunities on the horizon.

Thanks very much Michael, Shawn and Ronni.

So, to start I will explain our duties, then then animals and their stories, which are truly special soo stay focused.

Lily and I took part in the delightful morning feed, then we were supplied with an array of jobs for a few hours each day consisting of gardening, strawberry picking, cleaning and setting up enclosures. My favourite job was taking revenge on the gigantic thistles and taking them down, it felt so accomplishing taking down a patch of thistles taller than me, definitely a fave thanks Michael. After those few hours of work we were then released into the big wide world for some exploration time and returning/finishing off the day with the evening feed.

Story time.. grab a cuppa.

Sparky is their one tonne Angus Bull, sadly for Sparky, Angus cows are incredible big and friendly making them perfect live stock, however sparky got his foot tangled up in a fence at a young age which’s led to many problems and mobility issues, meaning he’s spent his life at the sanctuary. Sparky is around 17 times the weight of me but couldn’t be a more friendly cow.

Bartholomew, the local donkey and interesting alarm clock, was found abandoned with his mother (now deceased) in a paddock, when the grass ran out the two donkeys were near starved to death when found. Although donkeys don’t do well alone Bartholomew has Romeo the miniature horse to keep him company.

Romeo was tied up and abused by his previous owners, when we arrived at the sanctuary he was scared of people and the stables but after years of TLC he now loves human attention and enjoys the freedom that the sanctuary provides.

Rouge is their resident Alexandrine Parrot, she lives in an aviary in the house, and constantly calls out for attention and food, if she can see you sat at the table she most definitely will let you know that she wants some. Her favourite is spaghetti, I must say I’ve never seen spaghetti being eaten so delicately. When we were clearing out her cage she was incredibly agile at balancing on my shoulder, I was most definitely impressed.

Prince William our morning caller and our night time serenader.

He was one of 3 peacocks who were being lined up to be shot, but the sanctuary said they would take them, however to their dismay they tuned up tied up in 3 canvas bags with just their heads poking out.

Due to peacocks being Indians national bird and were once only owed by the maharajas they thought fittingly and witty’ingly that they would named them Price Harry, Charles and William. Sadly just Prince William is left and is definitely a sight to see.

There are so many animals at the sanctuary too many to mention however each and everyone has had such a sad story, one thing the animals have taught us a-lot about is forgiveness and learning to love and trust again.


Each animal enquiry is truly unique, a lot of the animals were acquired from people hoarding, like our all blacks fan Barooshka, this is something that I’ve never heard of before. One lady had 42 frozen cats in her freezer plus hundreds of cats in her flat.

The two resident turkeys (I’ve never seen such big turkeys), where acquired by the sanctuary because the owners didn’t know they were turkeys.

On our first night at the sanctuary they had a phone call about a guy accidentally buying 1,000 chickens off of trade me (bit like ebay) for $1.50. In shock he phoned the sanctuary after realising instead of purchasing say 10 hens at $1.50 each it was $1.50 for the full 1,000, after realising his new responsibilities he phoned for help. Shawn received the call and ran with it. We can first hand say how much hard work this family put into the sanctuary and how much love and care they put into everything, it is truly remarkable and inspirational. They rallied together all the fully verified adopters for the whole of the Northland, to pick up the hens in two set times to reduce stress towards these farmed chickens.

Truly remarkable.

One of the most moving and saddest things we learnt is that all the chickens acquired at the sanctuary were from various rescues, one collection of chickens are referred to as the starving girls, The Joy, Cluck club also referred to as the cancer girls. One thing about farmed chickens is that they are severely inbred and this in turn has many consequences, many have a calcium deficiency’s from over laying leading to many different types of cancers. It’s really sad to feed and look after a pile of chickens who have not only been severely mistreated but who are also in a lot of pain due to over breeding.

This family have taught us so much and given us so much more respect for life and have truly made us question some of the going’s on in our lives resulting in the biggest most sincere thank you being deserved.

We have now headed off to the coromandels, which we will be exploring for the next week or so, soaking up the sun and making the most of the beautiful coast line and messing around with out newest addition to Eddie, our kayak!

But for now stay Savvy, and pop over and watch our sanctuary video.

48 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All