Trainees from Europe have no regrets about their working stay in Dannevirke.

Both Alix Gray and Jakob Gundersen wanted to learn about sheep and beef farming in New Zealand - instead, they wound up on Cammock's dairy farm at Te Rehunga, near Dannevirke.

It was going to be a huge change for Alix, who came from a sheep and beef farm in Northumberland, England.

In Northumberland, her parents have crossed pedigree hill-type Suffolk sheep with Bluefaced Leicester (lowland) rams, producing a "mule" sheep to produce lambs for the 40.4ha property.

Jakob, from Aalborg in northern Denmark, comes off a dairy farm owned by his parents - a 52.6ha operation with 120 Holstein-Fresian cows, much bigger than New Zealand Fresians which are housed indoors year-round.

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At Cammock's farm, land is used to grow maize, barley and silage to feed to the stock. The cow shed is like a herringbone but instead of a pit, a set of 15 milking machines is dragged between two rows of cows on a ground-level floor.

As part of Alix's agriculture degree from Harper Adams University in the UK, she chose New Zealand for her third-year work experience. Staying with Judith and Kelvin Cammock and dairy farming for a full year - starting with artificial insemination when she arrived to calving now - has been a life-changing experience.

When she returned home on September 28, she faced another academic year and was no longer sure if she wanted to do farm consultancy - she rather liked farming in New Zealand.

Apart from the farming life Alix also liked our weather, having experienced the warmest summer and mildest winter of all her 22 years.

She travelled a bit in the South Island, too, with other visitors from the AgriVenture programme - she enjoyed the Mackenzie Country merinos and walking the glaciers.

Jakob has been staying with Andrew and Fiona Cammock since August 1. On his first night he watched the All Blacks beat the Wallabies in the first game of rugby he had ever seen, and went to Eden Park on September 14 with some of his AgriVenture mates to watch the All Blacks play the Springboks.

Jakob will only stay for eight months and will probably go back to university to study economics. However, he feels he has a lot of options with his experience from New Zealand.

Both his father and sister have completed agricultural exchanges, in Canada and New Zealand, and Australia respectively.

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For Kelvin Cammock and wife Judith, and son Andrew and Andrew's wife Fiona, these exchanges have been great. They thoroughly enjoy the experience of helping young people experience dairy farming in New Zealand.

They have 480 KiwiCross cows on a 190ha farm with a modern rotary shed, and the latest technology gives the visitors a good taste of the latest dairying methods.

The exchangees are paid the minimum wage and get their keep free of charge. Both the host and exchangees pay a fee to AgriVenture, and both must go through a process of questionnaires and interviews to join the programme.

"Otherwise," says Jakob, "it is pretty easy."

Jakob has it pretty good: he has the chance to spend three consecutive summers in New Zealand. Alix, on the other hand, returned to the English winter - but at least she left behind 5am starts in the cowshed.

AgriVenture is looking for more hosts and trainees. Trainees must be aged 18 to 30 and hold a current driver's licence. No experience in farming is required. Couples are welcome.

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For more information, phone (09) 420 5212 or see www.agriventure.com