Guide to Rural NZ Animals for International Students

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Agriculture is a huge part of New Zealand’s economy. You will often see animals on farms across New Zealand’s countryside. Learning about the native and common animals in New Zealand is a must if you are an animal lover and are living/studying in the country.

NOTE: All animals in NZ are protected by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) Animal Welfare policies, including the Animal Welfare Act 1999, Codes of Welfare and strengthened humane animal treatment laws in 2015. Please make sure you get the farmers permission before you attempt to go on their land.

1. Sheep
NZ is well-known around the world for having more sheep than people, and its true! There are 27.5 million sheep in NZ and only 4.7 million people – that’s five times as many sheep as people.
Now that its Springtime in NZ its lambing season, where lots of lambs are born and cared for as the last of the cold weather dissipates. Then in late Spring and early Summer, the adult sheep are shorn so they don’t overheat, and their wool is made into super warm clothes for Kiwis in the winter. Through late Summer and autumn, they grow their wool back, eating grass to keep themselves fed and happy and by winter time their woolly coats are back!

2. Cattle
Not only are there more sheep than people in NZ, the country also has over 10 million cows (6.5 million dairy cows, 3.6 million beef cattle. These large animals are herbivores and are at the heart of the country’s dairy industry. NZ’s strong animal welfare standards mean that cattle are always feed in paddocks and are kept outside in natural conditions.

3. Alpacas
Easily confused with Llamas, there are two kinds of alpaca in NZ – Hucaya and Suri, and most of them are Hucaya. They can have a baby every year up until the age of 10 and an alpaca baby is known as a ‘cria’. Hucaya alpaca look like sheep with long necks. Suri alpaca have their fibre hanging in long ‘dreadlocks’ off them.

4. Horses
These majestic animals are held in high regard across the country. Some graze in paddocks, some race, some show jump - all are highly valued parts of the family. There are plenty of opportunities to go on a horse trek in NZ, and learn how to interact and ride in a safe/controlled environment.

5. Pigs
Extremely smart animals, pigs require shelter from the weather and have complex social and dietary requirements. Farm pigs are kept in pens that allow them space to eat, shelter, sleep and socialise in comfort. Pet pigs require a lot of maintenance, but they are loving animals and can make great outdoor pets for some Kiwis. They grow too large to be kept indoors however as they can weigh between 50kg and 350kg.

6. Goats
These hardy animals can make a great pet and are an excellent lawnmower if you have an overgrown backyard with lots of grass/weeds. Just make sure you keep your washing away from them, because they will eat anything! Goats milk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk for people with allergies.

7. Chickens
Farmed for their meat and eggs, these animals are often overlooked as great personalities on the farm. These animals live their best lives when they are free to a large patch of outdoor grass to graze on and have houses built to roost in.

8. Farm/Working Dogs
The farm dog, man’s best friend – dogs are a crucial part of the farmer’s landscape and the most loyal of pets. Working dogs do an incredible job across New Zealand’s farms, herding sheep and cattle across the toughest of terrain.

9. Bees
New Zealand is famous for our honey and no one should disregard how important bees are to New Zealand and the world. New Zealand has 28 native and 13 introduced species of bees, and they are best observed at a distance to avoid a sting! We recommend a visit to the Huka Honey Hive to learn more about NZ’s bees and enjoy free honey samples.

If you want to see these animals in their element we recommend a visit to Black Sheep Sanctuary (Wellington), The Animal Sanctuary (Auckland), Kiwi Valley Farm Park in Henderson (Auckland), Ambury Park (Auckland), Lilliput Farm Fun and Animal Park (Taupo), Whiti Farm Park (Whitianga), Gem Alpaca Stud (Fairlie) or Mount Nicholas farm experience (Queenstown).

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