New Zealand’s sheep are a major industry — and a must-see for travelers.
New Zealand is known for its vast, green landscapes that are lush, unspoiled — and carpeted with woolly creatures. That latter detail is nothing new, as New Zealand’s sheep farming industry has been a robust one for a few centuries now (and the country’s most significant industry, until dairy farming usurped it in size in 1987). How many sheep are in New Zealand? A staggering 30 million — that’s 7 for every one human — scattered throughout the country’s 16,000 sheep and beef farms that have made New Zealand the world’s largest exporter of lambs.
Given New Zealand’s proliferation of sheep farms and their natural beauty, many travelers there want to witness life — and even, in some cases, pitch in — on a working sheep farm. There are plenty of opportunities to make this popular industry an indelible part of your New Zealand stay. Like Seabourn’s Canterbury Sheep Farm Experience, a scenic, serene half-day farm tour including morning tea and a sheep dog demonstration that shows the important role dogs play in a successful sheep farm; or our full-day excursion to the 35,000-acre Erewhon Sheep Station — one of the country’s most historic — complete with a carriage ride on majestic Clydesdales, working farm demonstration, and barbecue lunch.
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No matter which farm experience you choose, it really comes down to one common denominator (hint: baaa). And on that front, you’ll see a mix that’ll nearly always include the classic Romney sheep — the country’s most popular breed — and Coopworth sheep (the second-largest breed, developed by scientists for the purpose of increasing lambing percentages of Romney ewes when mated with Border Leicester rams). While most are in a white or natural/off-white color, some are bred to have black, brown, gray, and rich cream-colored wool. In all their forms, they’re a prime — and placid — part of this picturesque country’s DNA.
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