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.
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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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