Christmas, New Year and my birthday are all difficult dates for me since I became a nomad. I feel the pressure to be somewhere special and do something extravagant. After stressing about the holidays of 2012, a friend told me about a gay nudist B&B farm called Autumn Farm.
A gay nudist farm… for Christmas? Hell yeah! The question wasn’t if I should go but how quickly I could get there!
I needed to get from Wellington to Takaka. Fortunately, there is a direct flight. My suspicions about the flight began when I called them and they asked for my weight. When I arrived at the airport, I saw why. The plane was a tiny-tiny little two-propeller plane. The eighteen-year old kid who ‘checked us in’ (that amounted to asking me if I was going on the plane) turned out to also be the baggage handler and the pilot. It wouldn’t surprise me if he runs Golden Bay Air as a one-man company. He might even have built the plane himself, who knows.
Thinking that we all have to die sometime, I climbed into the co-pilot seat, strapped myself in and then spent 50 minutes watching the kid-pilot do nothing but play with his cell-phone for the duration of the flight.
Having seen the Autumn Farm website, I expected a non-descript country-house with a large garden. I had been misled. Autumn Farm was in fact a slice of paradise! The garden wasn’t large, it was huge, and wonderfully designed with pathways, trees, a stream, gazebos (I did not attack them.), flowers and lots of penis sculptures. The male member seemed to be something of a theme in the art at Autumn Farm… There was a bathhouse (with a disco ball), a composting toilet (the throne) and a tepee. At night, there was always a brazier burning which people gathered around to tell stories and drink. But best of all was the wood-fired outdoor bathtub. I loved to lie there with a glass of wine and watch shooting stars burn across a night sky decorated with thousands of stars.
Autumn Farm is close to the hippie-town Takaka in the Golden Bay region of New Zealand’s south island. Golden Bay has a genuine rural beauty and many fun places to go. There are plenty of places to go swimming. My favourite was a nearby stream with a five-metre cliff. After seeing a few kids somersault of the damn thing, I pushed myself to at least jump off it. There are also many great beaches, often framed with tall green hills. (as is all of New Zealand btw)
These hills have some good caves as well. Dragon’s Cave isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds, but it is impressive with thousands of bent stalactites. Bent? Yeah, because they are not stalactites shaped by dripping water but rather a kind of algae, which grows more on the sunny side of the stalactite, making them bend towards the cave entrance.
Autumn Farm is a community. Don’t come to Autumn Farm to be pampered and waited at as (1) you won’t be and (2) you would miss the whole point of Autumn Farm. It has the community spirit of a hippie commune without forcing you to endure endless prayer circles and crystal-wielding soothsayers.
The conductor of Autumn Farm is Peter, a slightly effeminate Rummy-playing man with a dirty sense of humour that borders on, but never crosses into, sleazy. His partner in bed and business is Pete. I mistook Pete for something of a country-bumpkin when I first met him, but that was my mistake. Pete is in fact a very cool man, and how he manages to cook for 60 people in that tiny little kitchen on what I imagine must be a limited per-head budget is a mystery to me. I never once had a bad meal at Autumn Farm. In fact, I soon buried my diet in the garden as it was clearly a losing game.
Community spirit in all honour, but the guests were paying guests, and there are plenty of work that they are not expected to do. Peter and Pete work a lot, but they couldn’t possibly run the place without help. Autumn Farm is full of fairies, but none of the magic kind that could maintain this enchanted grove. So who does all the work? Why, the wwoofer slaves of course!
As a wwoofer, you work four hours a day for room and food. You pay nothing, and get paid nothing. It is a popular way for poverty stricken nomads (like yours truly) to travel on a shoestring budget.
I spent my first three days of wwoofing in the garden, hoeing, weeding and planting. After the three days, I got a royal bollocking by Peter for being slow, inept and generally useless. Well duh! He should have known that the second he saw my hands! Smooth as a baby butt. It is obvious to anyone and everyone that I have never done a proper day’s manual labour in my life, so what did he expect? If it weren’t for my new awesome friend and fellow wwoofer David helping me out, I would probably have severed a toe with the shovel.
I pointed out the numerous flaws with Autumn Farm’s current website and general IT setup, and in my remaining wwoofing time, I created a brand new website, halved their monthly IT bill and saved their asses from being branded as spammers by setting them up with a proper newsletter account.
Who’s useless now, ehh?
Christmas this year was a no-starter. 30 degrees Celsius, green grass and naked men do not spell Christmas spirit in my book. I tried to get into the swing of things by listening to the Nightmare Before Christmas, but no…
After Christmas, the week-long Summer Camp event started. On the 27th, about 60 naked men descended on Autumn Farm. The atmosphere went from serene and intimate to social and fun.
The daily rhythm went something like this. I’d spend the morning wwoofing. After lunch, I might go on an excursion or work out in the garden. Around six there was often some kind of special event. Then after dinner, people gathered in the bathhouse (with the shiny disco ball) or around the brazier, flirting the night away and maybe take a bath in the outdoor bathtub.
Some of the special events were delightfully bizarre.
Take sixty odd gay men, throw them several large suitcases with dress-up costumes and you got yourself a masquerade. The winner was a seemingly normal older gentlemen who transformed into … into a… a … I can’t. It was too horrific. Just check out the picture, then go find yourself a good psychiatrist.
The King and Queen Pageant
A king and queen pageant in a gay resort is an interesting beast. You have no problems finding queens, but the kings are rare. Fortunately, we have other stereotypes to play with, like the leather master. Sort of a king, in a way.
I competed as a duo together with one of those leather masters. I wore his leather harness and one of his leather thongs, acting out the role as a slave puppy. I guess I’m a natural, because we won! Yep, I’m a half king of Autumn Farm, and I wear my thorn-crown with pride!
There is a hilarious video of me darting into the audience fetching a bone(r), but it is a bit too racy for this blog. Sorry peeps, but my mum reads this!
Every year, Peter writes an innuendo-packed show for the Summer Camp, performed by whatever guests are crazy enough to sign up for such torture. This year, it was a spoof of Downton Abbey.
It was delightfully amateurish, with Peter hissing forgotten lines from stage-left. My personal favourite was when one of the actors hissed back, “We are miles from that line!” On stage arguments between actors and the director… I just wished I had had my popcorn!
I’ve included a taster video, and if you want more (and why wouldn’t you) then you can buy the whole farce for $25. (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
On New Year’s Eve, we sent up sky lanterns and then probably shot them down with a large battery of fireworks. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a naked man dart between firework pieces, through showers of sparks, lighting them. You could smell burning hair. Should have waxed…
Afterwards, I sat by the brazier and contemplated my year past and the one just starting. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe all the wonderful places I get to enjoy and the people I meet. This was far (faaaaar) from my traditional Christmas and New Year. I love celebrating the holidays with my family in Sweden, but I need some variety at times, and Autumn Farm could not have delivered more of that!
Happy New Year everybody!