Arapawa Sheep

The Arapawa sheep is a feral breed of sheep from New Zealand. It is mainly found in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand. These animals have probably been isolated since they were introduced in 1867.

Exact origins of these animals are not known. But there are many theories about how these animals arrived.

Generally accepted theory is that ‘they are descendants of Merino strains from Australia. Other theories imply that they are Middle Eastern breed introduced by the whalers, or that the sheep landed on the Arapawa island from a Spanish galleon as far back as the 1500s.

Today the Arapawa sheep is classified as ‘rare‘ by the New Zealand Rare Breeds Conservation Society. Read some more information about this feral sheep breed below.

Arapawa Sheep Characteristics

The Arapawa sheep are not among the large sheep breeds. They are lean and light boned animals.

They have clear narrow face and head, with alert and bright eyes. Their neck is long and have slender ears.

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The rams are horned, but the ewes are generally polled. And the rams have spiralled horns which can be over a meter in length. They have relatively long legs.

Most common coloring of the Arapawa sheep is all black. But they may often have white points, and on very rare occasions can be pure white.

The most strikingly colored are those which are spotted with white over the whole body, and which are often referred to as ‘cocktail’ Arapawas. Photo and info from and Wikipedia.


This is a feral sheep breed. It is used mainly for wool.

Special Notes

The Arapawa sheep are very hardy and strong animals. Their light build and long legs together make them a very active breed.

And are well adapted to their native environments. They are naturally more resistant to fly-strike and are being used in breeding experiments with the hope of introducing this characteristics into commercial flocks.

Today the Arapawa sheep are rare, and some animals are found on the island.

And several thousand animals are now found in flocks throughout New Zealand. However, review full breed profile of this sheep in the following chart.

Breed NameArapawa
Other NameNone
Breed PurposeWool
Special NotesVery hardy and strong animals, well adapted to their local climates, naturally more resistant to fly-strike, today the breed is pretty rare in the island
Breed SizeSmall
HornsRams are horned, but the ewes are generally polled
Climate ToleranceNative climates
ColorBlack and white
Country/Place of OriginNew Zealand

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