The Mighty Merino Sheep

New Zealand is a land of 30 million sheep and high in the mountains of the South Island they grow the world's finest wool.

New Zealand is a land where sheep outnumber people seven times over. The most well known of New Zealand’s sheep breeds is the merino. Once the sheep of Spanish nobility, some were gifted to the king of England in the 18th century before they were brought to South Africa and Australia & eventually New Zealand.

Merino rams (male sheep) are easily distinguished by their impressive curled horns. The females (ewes) can be identified by their pink noses and wrinkly necks. Almost all merinos live on farms in the Southern Alps of the South Island where they thrive in the rugged mountain terrain and produce the finest wool in the world.

New Zealand merino wool is exported around the world and used by fashion houses to produce high quality suits, active-wear and fashion clothing. Companies like SmartWool (USA), Armani (Italy), John Smedley (United Kingdom) and J. Press (Japan) all use New Zealand merino wool.

Sheep farming is central to New Zealand culture and a taste of farming life is a must for any New Zealand holiday. Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass is a stylish nature lodge that has its own 6000 acre farm and specialises in offering visitors the opportunity to experience life on a real working merino sheep farm.Wilderness Lodge guests can explore the property on their own or join real farmer guides to watch border collie sheep dogs herd the sheep, bottle feed orphan lambs and watch sheep being shorn with the old fashioned hand blades (and maybe even lend a hand!). Take a look here at some photos of sheep shearing on the Wilderness Lodge farm.

You can't beat the setting of this Lodge overlooking the mountains and the valley. The sheep muster and shearing demonstration were a highlight of our trip to the South Island

New Zealand is a land of sheep and visitors will be captivated by the traditions and daily routines of farming life. Following a farm visit you will see your favourite woollen sweater in a whole new light!

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