New Zealand’s wool industry reaches back to the earliest colonial days of 1834 where the first permanent merino flock was established. The Merino was the dominant breed this was to change with the refrigeration of the shipping of export meat in 1882 along with the introduction of the Lincoln and English Leicester breeds to cope with the different climatic conditions of the North Island.

Merino sheep were at home grazing the native grasses of the Southern Alps snowline and the New Zealand Half Bred’s and Corriedales grazing the rolling countryside and of the lowlands. In 1910 the Romney sheep breed was developed for its course wool and lamb production.

Wool is a natural fibre it is a good insulator, it is very tough and versatile. Wool is highly elastic especially when wet. Wool is highly valued for its good ventilation and free movement of air.

Each fleece contains 10s of millions of fibres all arranged in bundles of staples providing a cover over the sheep’s back. Lanoline wool wax helps keep the fleece clean.

Wool is shorn from live sheep once or twice a year by skilled shearers.

Here at Riverfields B&B you can view experience the wool by visiting a woolshed. You are able handle the wool feeling its finess, softness and viewing its colour and strength. We will describe the process of taking the wool from the live sheep, understanding its unique characteristics and wide range of end uses including spinning wool as a natural fibre with a spinning wheel.