Turihaua, Beatriz’s favourite place

Beatriz de Smet d’Olbecke from Chile at Turihaua Station with Paul Williams, his son Max and dogs Hemi and Leo.
Tamango Lake, Patagonia, south of Coyhaique where Beatriz lives, close to Cerro Castillo Village.
Beatriz de Smet d’Olbecke preparing the ‘cordero al palo’ — whole lamb on a stick at Turihaua.
Close to being cooked. Cordero al palo, whole lamb on a stick is cooked for four hours on a stake sloped towards the fire. Before the cooking process starts, the meat is massaged all over with salt. When the meat starts to sweat, it is sprayed every 30 minutes with a dressing from a squeeze bottle. The dressing is made of water, salt, garlic, pepper and rosemary, or whatever other herbs and spices you like. The lamb should be cooked with the inside facing the fire for three hours and then turned around for another hour. There’s an art in making sure it’s not too close to the fire or too far away so that the temperature stays consistent. It’s a traditional celebration dish in Patagonia and would normally feed 15-20 people for dinner.
Enchanted Forest, north of Aysen Region, near Queulat Glacier. To get into this spot, you have to hike one and a half hours off the main route.
Queulat Glacier, north of Coyhaique.

THE meat was still sizzling as it was carried on a stake from the fire to the table.

A young woman inspected the lamb somewhat anxiously, tasted a piece and then gave it the thumbs up.

Beatriz de Smet d’Olbecke, from Coyhaique in Chile, had seen lamb cooked in the traditional Patagonian way a thousand times before but she had never been in charge of the process herself.

So when Paul Williams at Turihaua Station where she was working, asked her to cook the lamb for the staff Christmas party, Beatriz was understandably nervous.

However, the bubbly 26-year-old need not have worried. The ‘cordero al palo’ (lamb on a stick) was cooked to perfection.

The veterinary science graduate from the University of Vina Del Mar had been working at Turihaua for two and a half months, helping Paul with the Angus cattle and brother Toby with the sheep side of the large farming operation.

Her working holiday visa did not allow her to work in New Zealand as a veterinarian, but Beatriz loved the general farm work at Turihaua.

“It’s such a nice place to work and live,” she says.

“I love the atmosphere and the people here. The Williams family have been so kind to me, they are like a second family to me.”

So what brought Beatriz all the way from Coyhaique to Gizzy?

“It’s a funny story how I got to Gisborne,” she says.

“After graduating in 2015, I decided to travel to gain some on-farm experience and to improve my English.

“A vet I knew in Chile told me about a Brazilian woman, Dayanne, who was working on a sheep station in the Wairarapa. He suggested I contact her to get some advice about where to work in New Zealand.

“So I emailed Dayanne and when I got to New Zealand, she invited me to go and work with her on Wairere Station in the Wairarapa.

“I was very excited because it was my first job. I worked there for about three months and learned a lot about sheep genetics, fencing, shepherding and general farm work.

“Dayanne also very kindly offered me a place to live. She said when she came to New Zealand, someone helped her so she was returning the favour.

“‘One day you would do the same,’ she said to me, and I will.”

When it was time to move on, one of Beatriz’s bosses at Wairere put her in touch with Hamish and Angela Williams at Turihaua Station in Gisborne.

“I phoned them and they said ‘No problem — you can come and live and work here.’

“I talked to their son Paul in July and came here at the beginning of October, after the calving season.

“Working on a beef stud farm was a new experience for me. I love Angus cattle and Paul has been teaching me all about farming and in particular Angus genetics, animal behaviour, conformation and the structure of the cattle so I understand how everything works here.

“Farming is much more organised here than in Chile. I like the fact they have all the information about every animal at their fingertips. In Chile, farmers tend to judge cattle by their physical looks, but here they know all about the animal’s genotype, all his genetic history.”

Beatriz’s Belgium-born father worked on a sheep farm for 20 years so she is used to the rural way of life.

“I have farming in my blood, especially a love of large animals.”

After the farm was sold, Beatriz’s father set up a craft brewery called D’OLBEK in Coyhaique in 2005, the first in the region.

“Craft beer is very popular in Chile now and there are 20 or so breweries in the region now.”

In the two and a half months Beatriz has been in Gisborne, she has had a good look around the region, visiting Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Anaura Bay, Mahia, Rere Falls and Eastwoodhill Arboretum, but her favourite place is Turihaua.

During that time, she’s only met a couple of South Americans which is a good thing, she says.

“I prefer to meet English-speaking people so I have more opportunities to improve my language skills.”

On the eve of her departure, she was sad to be leaving Gisborne but with only a month left on her visa, she felt it was time to explore the South Island.

“I feel so lucky to have worked here with the Williams family. It’s been brilliant.

“I’ve had lovely living quarters too, with a beautiful view of the sea.”

She was travelling south to catch up with Dayanne in Queenstown and another friend in Wanaka. After that, she was headed for Australia, eager for more on-farm experiences.

Beatriz says you have to be brave to travel to a foreign country alone, without a job or a place to live.

“It was not easy coming to a place where the language and culture are so different but it’s well worth it. I have a positive outlook on life and always believed it would turn out OK.

“My sister, Trinidad, also loves to travel so she encouraged me to make the most of it, even when I felt homesick at the thought of being away from my family for Christmas.

“I love travel and photography. These things are my passions,” she says.

THE meat was still sizzling as it was carried on a stake from the fire to the table.

A young woman inspected the lamb somewhat anxiously, tasted a piece and then gave it the thumbs up.

Beatriz de Smet d’Olbecke, from Coyhaique in Chile, had seen lamb cooked in the traditional Patagonian way a thousand times before but she had never been in charge of the process herself.

So when Paul Williams at Turihaua Station where she was working, asked her to cook the lamb for the staff Christmas party, Beatriz was understandably nervous.

However, the bubbly 26-year-old need not have worried. The ‘cordero al palo’ (lamb on a stick) was cooked to perfection.

The veterinary science graduate from the University of Vina Del Mar had been working at Turihaua for two and a half months, helping Paul with the Angus cattle and brother Toby with the sheep side of the large farming operation.

Her working holiday visa did not allow her to work in New Zealand as a veterinarian, but Beatriz loved the general farm work at Turihaua.

“It’s such a nice place to work and live,” she says.

“I love the atmosphere and the people here. The Williams family have been so kind to me, they are like a second family to me.”

So what brought Beatriz all the way from Coyhaique to Gizzy?

“It’s a funny story how I got to Gisborne,” she says.

“After graduating in 2015, I decided to travel to gain some on-farm experience and to improve my English.

“A vet I knew in Chile told me about a Brazilian woman, Dayanne, who was working on a sheep station in the Wairarapa. He suggested I contact her to get some advice about where to work in New Zealand.

“So I emailed Dayanne and when I got to New Zealand, she invited me to go and work with her on Wairere Station in the Wairarapa.

“I was very excited because it was my first job. I worked there for about three months and learned a lot about sheep genetics, fencing, shepherding and general farm work.

“Dayanne also very kindly offered me a place to live. She said when she came to New Zealand, someone helped her so she was returning the favour.

“‘One day you would do the same,’ she said to me, and I will.”

When it was time to move on, one of Beatriz’s bosses at Wairere put her in touch with Hamish and Angela Williams at Turihaua Station in Gisborne.

“I phoned them and they said ‘No problem — you can come and live and work here.’

“I talked to their son Paul in July and came here at the beginning of October, after the calving season.

“Working on a beef stud farm was a new experience for me. I love Angus cattle and Paul has been teaching me all about farming and in particular Angus genetics, animal behaviour, conformation and the structure of the cattle so I understand how everything works here.

“Farming is much more organised here than in Chile. I like the fact they have all the information about every animal at their fingertips. In Chile, farmers tend to judge cattle by their physical looks, but here they know all about the animal’s genotype, all his genetic history.”

Beatriz’s Belgium-born father worked on a sheep farm for 20 years so she is used to the rural way of life.

“I have farming in my blood, especially a love of large animals.”

After the farm was sold, Beatriz’s father set up a craft brewery called D’OLBEK in Coyhaique in 2005, the first in the region.

“Craft beer is very popular in Chile now and there are 20 or so breweries in the region now.”

In the two and a half months Beatriz has been in Gisborne, she has had a good look around the region, visiting Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Anaura Bay, Mahia, Rere Falls and Eastwoodhill Arboretum, but her favourite place is Turihaua.

During that time, she’s only met a couple of South Americans which is a good thing, she says.

“I prefer to meet English-speaking people so I have more opportunities to improve my language skills.”

On the eve of her departure, she was sad to be leaving Gisborne but with only a month left on her visa, she felt it was time to explore the South Island.

“I feel so lucky to have worked here with the Williams family. It’s been brilliant.

“I’ve had lovely living quarters too, with a beautiful view of the sea.”

She was travelling south to catch up with Dayanne in Queenstown and another friend in Wanaka. After that, she was headed for Australia, eager for more on-farm experiences.

Beatriz says you have to be brave to travel to a foreign country alone, without a job or a place to live.

“It was not easy coming to a place where the language and culture are so different but it’s well worth it. I have a positive outlook on life and always believed it would turn out OK.

“My sister, Trinidad, also loves to travel so she encouraged me to make the most of it, even when I felt homesick at the thought of being away from my family for Christmas.

“I love travel and photography. These things are my passions,” she says.

Patagonia

Patagonia is a geographic region located in the southern most part of South America, shared by Chile and Argentina.

“The Chilean side is a rich natural area with many stunning glaciers, fiords, mountains, volcanoes, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and an enormous variety of flora and fauna,” says Beatriz de Smet d’Olbecke from Coyhaique.

“The weather is incredibly unpredictable with long, hard winters and short summers. This area is a sparsely-populated and mother nature is a part of everyday life.

“In my opinion, to be born and raised in Patagonia is the best gift that life has given me,” says Beatriz.

“I have an amazing family who have supported me from growing up in a small town in southern Chile, to studying to be a vet and now to travelling the world,” she says.

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Nicolas - 7 months ago
That vet that contact her with Diane Almeyda in the first place sure is an awesome guy

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