Discover world class wool

New Zealand wool is renowned for its purity, quality, strength and lustre.

Living a more natural life with wool is a good decision. While the structure of wool fibre delivers exceptional functional and technical performance, you can also be confident you are making the right choice for the delicate ecosystem of our planet.

Live a better life with wool

Environment

Better for your world

Home

Better for your home

Lifestyle

Better for your body

Natural

Grown from a mixture of sunshine, grass, water, and fresh air, sheep wool is made by nature, in nature.

Renewable

Wool is the ultimate renewable resource. Every year sheep grow a glorious new fleece which must be shorn for the health and hygiene of the animal.

Biodegradable

At the end of its life, wool can be returned to the soil and will degrade in a few months releasing nutrients into the ecosystem.

Planet friendly

Because wool biodegrades fully, using wool reduces the impact on the world’s landfills.

Ocean safe

Unlike plastics, wool does not release micro-plastics into our oceans and seas meaning it is safe for our waterways and aquatic wildlife.

Animal wellbeing

Happier sheep produce exceptional wool. New Zealand sheep are treated with the utmost care by our growers and this shows in the quality of the fibre.

Insulation

The natural crimp of wool fibre causes air to be trapped between fibres enabling wool to provide warmth in winter and cool in summer.

Moisture regulation

Wool fibre absorbs water vapour decreasing humidity, condensation and mould growth in the home.

Flame resistance

Wool is less flammable than synthetics and does not melt. Also, wool produces less smoke which is not as toxic.

Absorbs pollution

Small pores in the wool fibre effectively absorb certain pollutants from the air creating a healthier indoor air environment.

Buffers sound

Due to the porosity of wool, sound waves penetrate wool fibres and dissipate. Wool carpets and insulation reduce noise within and between rooms.

Impact resistant

Wool is softer than hard flooring so falls on wool carpets cause fewer injuries. Wool carpet is also more slip-resistant than hard flooring.

Temperature regulation

Wool is a natural insulator by trapping air between the fibres so it keeps you cosy and warm in cool weather, and nice and cool in the heat.

Odour resistance

Wool doesn’t smell so bad. Tiny pores trap vapour from sweat-wicking away moisture which decreases odour causing bacteria.

Warmth

Wool locks away moisture within the pores of the fibre which keeps the fabric dryer. This, in turn, keeps the fabric, and you warmer.

UV protection

Sheep don’t get sunburnt because their wool is a natural sunscreen. When you wear wool you’ll have protection too.

Easy care

The protective coating on wool fibres makes wool products resistant to staining and easy to clean. Many wool products are now machine washable.

Long-lasting

Wool is resilient and elastic which means the fibres are less likely to break. This increases the life of wool much longer than other, more brittle fibres.

The science of wool

No other material, natural or man-made, has the qualities and adaptability of wool. Science has taught us much about wool and has further developed its use by adapting to modern needs without impairing the fundamental virtues of the fibre.

Wool is more than just a simple strand of fibre! The complex internal structure of wool fibre is the reason wool delivers a myriad of benefits.

Tougher than steel, yet finer than human hair

The internal structure of wool is complex, yet each part works together to create the most incredible super-fibre in the world.

  • Cuticle – This is the waxy outside protective layer that has overlapping “scales” and makes wool water-repellent.
  • Cortex – This layer makes up 90% of the fibre.  There are two components of the cortex which have different-sized cells on each side.  This creates the crimp, or waviness of wool.  Crimp gives wool its softness, sound absorption, and temperature regulating properties.
  • Macro and microfibrils – These are long filaments that add strength to the fibre.  A bit like steel rods in a concrete building, these cells reinforce the fibre while maintaining flexibility.
  • Matrix – The special proteins contained in the matrix attract water molecules which means wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water.  It is the matrix that also removes odour-causing vapour and locks away harmful pollutants from air pollution.  The matrix gives wool its fire-resistant and anti-static properties.
  • Helix – Deep inside the fibre is a keratin-based protein chain that coils in a helix shape, much like a spring. This prevents stretching of the fibre and also gives wool its flexibility, elasticity, and resilience.  This means wool can ‘spring back’ over and over again without breaking.  In fact, you can bend wool more than 20,000 times before it will break – you can’t do that with steel!

Discover how the thickness of wool fibre determines its use

A micron (μ or um) is one-millionth of a metre.  In the world of wool, the diameter, or thickness, of one strand of wool fibre is measured in microns. 

Wool from different sheep breeds gives us different thicknesses.  

Merino is one of the world’s most famous sheep breeds and produces low-micron wool.  Wool that is less than 20 microns is called “fine wool” and is often used in clothing due to being very soft.

There are many other sheep breeds in New Zealand, including Romney and Perendale, which produce higher micron wool.  We call higher micron wool “medium” or “strong” wool and it has many uses from blankets, bedding, and mattresses to carpets, insulation, and upholstery fabrics.  Medium and strong wool makes up 80% of New Zealand’s total wool production.  

Learn about microns (μm)

< 25μm
Fine wool

20-30μm
Medium wool

> 28μm
Strong wool

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Wool type

Fine

Micron

< 25μm

Sheep Breeds

- Merino

- Halfbred

Typical Uses

Fine clothing, knitwear, suiting, accessories worn next to skin, throws, baby blankets & sleeping bags

Wool type

Medium

Micron

20-30μm

Sheep Breeds

- Halfbred

- Suffolk

- Other 'Down' sheep breeds

Typical Uses

Heavier weight clothing eg. jackets and coats, blankets and throws

Wool type

Strong

Micron

> 28μm

Sheep Breeds

- Romney

- Coopworth

- Corriedale

- Perendale

- Leicesters

- Lincoln

Typical Uses

Blankets, special lustre yarns, carpets, rugs, upholstery fabric, insulation, bedding

Why is New Zealand wool so good?

New Zealand is one of the kindest environments for sheep to live in with everything they need to grow and be healthy. A pristine climate, clean water, fresh air, grass, and growers who look after their animals and land with utmost care.

Happier sheep produce better wool, and that makes New Zealand wool the best quality in the world.

The world's purest wool from our rich pastures to your home

The quality of New Zealand’s pastures is reflected in the health of our sheep and the vitality of our wool.  Much of New Zealand’s climate is temperate, with undulating fields, good rainfall, and high sunshine. These are perfect conditions for many strong wool breeds. 

Even in New Zealand’s beautiful but harsher alpine climates,  the sure-footed merino is quite at home with land to roam as far as the eye can see.

Good soil is critical for the growth of nutritious grass and New Zealand soil is some of the best in the world.  Full of vitamins and goodness, the richness of our soils help our sheep grow some of the most beautiful fleeces in the world.

Shepherd and Dogs photo credit Kieren Scott on Minaret Station

Our growers care for their animals and the environment

New Zealand wool growers are devoted to maintaining a stress-free life for their animals and ensuring the ecosystem is protected.

Regular shearing is one of the most important factors for maintaining the health of the sheep. Without it, sheep can develop a nasty and debilitating infection called flystrike.  At least once per year, the growers bring their whole herd of sheep to the wool shed to be shorn.

Our growers also ensure stress-free handling of sheep on the farm with the use of specially trained working dogs.  These working dogs are part of the farming family and are happiest gently shifting precious herds to their next pasture or to the woolshed.

Many New Zealand wool growers have joined the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme which guarantees the highest level of animal welfare on the farm.

Our support for the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP)

The New Zealand Farm Assurance programme (NZFAP) provide assurances to consumers regarding integrity, traceability, animal health and welfare, people, farm, natural resources, and biosecurity. 

Wool from NZFAP registered farms provide confidence and certainty to millions of consumers across the world who are looking for guarantees that our products are authentic and safe.

The Campaign for Wool New Zealand fundamentally support and actively promote the integrity of wool from New Zealand and we are a proud member of the NZFAP.

 

 

Learn more about NZFAP

Support New Zealand wool by buying from our partners

Working together is the way forward for the New Zealand wool industry and that’s why our partners are so important to us. Without them, there would be no Campaign for Wool in New Zealand.

If you are looking to live a more natural, sustainable life, you can be confident that choosing wool products and services from our partners is the right decision.

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History of NZ wool

Wool is a fibre fit for the future, yet its history weaves way back in time, through the early days of New Zealand settlement through an era of global exploration.

Learn more

Careers in wool

Thinking of a career in wool? Many tertiary and specialist institutions across New Zealand have courses to suit your ambitions.

Learn more

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