New Zealand Wool Varieties

Do you know the difference between cashmere, merino and alpaca? Understanding the origin and cultivation of these ancient materials is important when deciding the right garment for you - each has subtle advantages for different climates and uses. Let us tell you a little about the New Zealand Wool word!


Cashmere wool comes from the neck of either the Cashmere or Pashmina Goat. The wool used for our BONZ grows only in the roots of the hair, as this is the thinnest and finest velvet – around 14-16 micrometres! Cashmere wool is considered to be stronger, lighter, softer and provide more insulation than standard sheep’s wool. ‘Cashmere’ is a transliteration of Kashmir, which was originally the centre for Cashmere wool distribution globally.

There are several ways to extract the cashmere wool from the whole fleece. The most common is through Shearing and subsequent manual separation. While this process is laborious, it is the most exact and ensures Cashmere of the highest quality.


Merino wool comes from the Merino breed of sheep. While it’s not native to New Zealand, we have become a global leader in its farming and its cultivation for wool and leather products. A recent survey found that over 40% of the global Merino supply comes from New Zealand – a huge number considering our size and population.

The Merino fleece holds one of the finest wool in the world, bested only by Cashmere and Alpaca. It does, however, hold some different properties that make it preferred for some situations than any other. The Merino wool contains an oil called Lanolin – this gives the wool waterproof qualities. While merino garments are not entirely ‘Waterproof’, they have an ability to repel water and stop it from soaking into the garment. The Lanolin also assists in preventing the absorption of a foreign substance into the individual fibre strands – a protective barrier. This most notably prevents the development of odours associated with perspiration.


The softness of Alpaca wool is akin to that of Cashmere, putting it ahead of Merino. Unlike Cashmere, however, Alpaca includes similar waterproof properties to Merino. Alpaca is actually considered to be more moisture wicking and less absorbent than Merino. Alpaca is also very warm and durable. 

Its origins are in Peru, and the Peruvians are still the largest exported of Alpaca fleece globally. New Zealand, with advancements on technology, is beginning to be a global player in Alpaca Fleece production. Our climate and history of farming make us perfectly suited to adopt the manufacturing of this emerging clothing material.

BONZ & Wool 

All BONZ products are designed by our in-house wool and leather specific design team. They operate from both our flagship Queenstown store or our factory in Invercargill. Our designers take a global approach to the designs but ensure the materials they use are practical, sustainable and locally sourced. The result is the foremost international fashion designs for hand-knits, machine knits and jackets being produced using variations of New Zealand made wool.