Great to meet ewe: Introducing sheep via Zoom to fans worldwide

Angie Hossack's sheep.
Angie Hossack's sheep. Photo credit: RNZ / Supplied

A sheep farmer who is making money from virtual tours of her farm does not believe people will give up on the idea of visiting New Zealand to experience things for themselves.

With the world in lockdown, people are having to get creative in their pursuit of overseas adventures.

Sheep farmer Angie Hossack who used to host visitors from all over the world via the Farmstay programme, has discovered another way to make money.

Her popular online farm tour 'Meet the Woolly Sheep on My Farm' takes place on her 10-acre block south of Rotorua.

She told Saturday Morning she is one of around 200 online experiences being offered globally on Airbnb. She provides a virtual tour of the 10-acre block to her customers, many of whom are from the United States and Japan.

She had to put in a submission and had great reviews from the panel that she auditioned to before the tours began.

"We allow guests to come and meet our sheep and they get to feed them. They get to learn about the breeding cycle, and I show them a little about the shearing process and then we go into learning about fibre and making wool into yarn basically."

The pet sheep will come right up to the camera, Hossack feeds them and viewers will ask questions about their care. Up to 100 guests can be included at one time over a period of about an hour.

The Zoom platform works really well and guests are able to talk to each other as well as her, Hossack said. "It's pretty fun.

"I did a 30th birthday party. Some of the guests were living in Japan, but actually guests who came were from the States and all over the world actually and they all met online with sheep."

A session on Friday with about 45 people on a "corporate bonding session" earned her about $400 - a better rate than what she earned in her other job as a reading recovery teacher.

All the money was reinvested in the farm. She used a lot of humour in her presentations combined with farming knowledge, which was of interest especially to those who didn't know much about country life.

"It's really surprising how many people both men, women and even children who are really interested in the wool processing side and they've never seen it before and they had no idea how wool is produced. None whatsoever."

She has about 85 sheep on her family farm and then about 30 specialty sheep on a small holding.

She does not believe her virtual tour will put people off visiting New Zealand to see things for themselves.

"Most of the people at the end of it, which is one of the reasons I'm so passionate about it, is they say: 'what time of year should I come to New Zealand, now I really want to come' or 'I've been planning on coming, now this has given me the motivation to plan my trip'... I think it's more of an incentive for people to get on a plane and come here."

She hopes to continue doing her virtual tours even when overseas tourists resume their visits.