A cow washed out to sea and marooned on an uninhabited island has finally made her way home.
And home isn’t as close as everyone initially thought.
Friday the cow managed to make her way to the deserted Karamuramu Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, after being swept away during the Tasman Tempest storm which battered the North Island.
Three men who work at the McCallum Bros quarry on the 16-acre island got the fright of their lives when they turned up for work on March 10 to find cow prints on the shore line.
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The men said she quickly became “part of the furniture”, waiting on the shore for her 7am breakfast of hay and standing on high points on the island to watch the men work.
A week later, she was coaxed on to a barge and ferried back to dry land.
Locals initially thought Friday must have come from a paddock near the Wairoa River in the southeast Auckland suburb of Clevedon.
At the very least, that would have meant she had swum 6km out to the island.
But when Ministry of Primary Industries workers scanned her ear tag, they discovered she had come from a farm in Orere Point – meaning she’d actually swum at least 20km.
Her swim took her through farms, past a Top 10 holiday park, down a little waterfall, under a wharf, across the face of Tapapakanga Regional Park and on to Karamuramu Island.
And all without a scratch.
Friday has since been reunited with her paddock mates and owner Kevin O’Connor, who was “amazed” to learn the island castaway was one of his cows.
O’Connor had only owned his 100-acre organic farm in Kawakawa-Orere Rd for two months when the storm hit in March.
He said fences were “mangled”, gates were torn away, and large swathes of land were washed down the river.
At a narrow point in the river that snakes around the farm, the water level rose about six metres.
That was near where Friday was grazing when she was swept away.
“I was walking around looking for the flood level. [I] suddenly realised I had to look up to find it,” he said.
He did lose other stock but O’Connor said it was hard to do the maths because some were still scattered around neighbouring properties.
“I really appreciate [Friday] now,” he said.
“It’s like, never give in, because you just never know when you might wash up on an island.”
O’Connor is in the early stages of developing a nature outreach programme for children, called Ecopony Retreat.
The retreat aims to use horses and other animals to help children with non-verbal communication and life skills.
He and manager Jodi Townend hope Friday, with her story of surviving against all odds, will be able to play a starring role.
“She ain’t ever going to the works,” he said.
In the future, Friday might become a milking cow so visiting kids can learn how to make real butter.
O’Connor has even contemplated naming the farm after her, even though she’s become a bossy “prima donna” after her island retreat.
“Maybe Swimming Cow Farm?”