Ok, here’s a little secret: most people probably don’t think of traveling to another country to see sheep. Sheep. Really? But, I’m telling you, here in New Zealand, our “sheep culture” and all that goes along with that is just worthy of mentioning and I’d like to explain why. Did you know that sheep outnumber people here 6:1? Hmmm…who knew? Actually I did, but since I’ve grown up with this, it didn’t really matter much to me. That is, until I travelled other places are realized how important our sheep are to New Zealand. Don’t laugh. It’s true. Let me tell you why.
My husband bought me a wool coat a few years ago. It was not “just” a wool coat, but a Merino Wool coat. I still didn’t appreciate the difference. He had business on the South Island, a place known for the rugged mountainous terrain. He handed me a large neat gray box, wrapped with a thick red ribbon, “just because.” Okay, great! I opened it, and inside was the most stylish gray wool coat, slim and smart looking, with hidden buttons and as warm as the sunshine. I slipped it on, and knew instantly this was going to be my coat. The one I wear for all occasions. And the moment I slipped this beautiful thing over my body, I learned more about New Zealand Merino Wool than I thought possible.
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My husband pointed to the label sewn inside the coat and informed me I could go on the Internet RIGHT NOW and view the Merino sheep LIVE that my coat was made from. What? I couldn’t believe this. How cool is that? I typed the address into my browser and there was webcam, live showing the sheep grazing on grass, their fluffy wooly bodies huddled together on a sloping, green pasture. It was a beautiful site, and I felt much more connected to the product, my coat, knowing where the wool came from. I started to investigate more about wool in New Zealand.
Several months later, my husband and I planned a trip to the South Island. I wanted to explore this area, and learn more about the Merino Sheep. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge at Arthur’s Pass, which sits just above the beautiful Wamakariri Valley and National Park. Picture snow capped peaks and green valleys….truly spectacular. The lodge is secluded and pleasant. There are plenty of hiking trails and guided tours available. I recommend learning about the sheep, from the shearing to the schedule. The herders adhere to a strict schedule in order to gather the world’s best wool from these sheep. It’s a learning experience, adventure and shopping treasure all in one visit. The picturesque views are a bonus. These sheep are “all about the base” meaning their wool is grown to perfection and sheared once a year, with no treble….no skinny mini shortcuts. It’s well worth the time to check out an old world tradition and experience the best wool products New Zealand has to offer. From running wear, to sweaters, jackets and other apparel, nothing comes close to New Zealand Merino Wool. Check it out! You won’t be disappointed….take this from your stylish loving blogger!