Looking for an authentic experience of Kiwi country life? Tucked away in the rolling hills of Waikato’s King Country, a slice of life on the farm awaits those seeking a glimpse of the real New Zealand.
Billy Black’s Kiwi Culture Show is a short drive south of Te Awamutu, but it’s easier to find if you’re approaching from Waitomo Caves Village in the south. Follow the sign and head a few kilometres down Waitomo Valley Road to where Woodlyn Park nestles amidst the rolling hills. Here, in a hilltop barn, the essence of Kiwi culture is distilled into a one-hour cultural show combining eye-opening live demos, clever farm animals performing on cue and a fascinating history lesson all wrapped up with a generous dose of Kiwi humour delivered by the black-singlet-clad character of Billy Black.
The rustic, down-on-the-farm ambience of Billy Black’s Kiwi Culture Show is cleverly composed in a barn/auditorium where the walls are decked out with retro farming paraphernalia and the glass wall behind the stage makes the farmyard beyond a living backdrop. The show opens with two members of the audience helping to demonstrate the lost art of cutting a log of wood with a two-man saw. Billy Black’s good-natured jibes add vibrant colour to the story of how the King Country hills were cleared by hand to create farmland. You’ll learn a whole lot in the process, but this is no ordinary lesson – be prepared to jump because Billy Black likes to keep you on your toes with heart-pounding pranks.
And then the animals arrive … one by one trotting up the farmyard to take their place on the stage and show off their talents while Billy Black fills your head with quirky facts you never knew about possums, donkeys or dogs. Meet, for instance, a pig who answers questions with a nod of his head and stands up on his hind legs to do the ‘moonwalk’. Later in the show, I’m coerced onto the stage to help shear a sheep the old-fashioned way, helping turn the crank to power a set of old-fashioned clippers. In the old days, shearers could clip dozens of sheep a day in this manner – thank goodness we’ve only got one to clip today, because this is hard work!
Whether you’re a local ‘townie’ or a visitor from overseas, Billy Black’s Kiwi Culture Show is compulsory viewing if you want a proper Kiwi education.
Billy Black’s Kiwi Culture Show, Woodlyn Park, 1177 Waitomo Valley Road, Otorohanga. Shows held at 1:30pm daily.