globetrotting: the shearing shed in waitomo, new zealand
disclaimer: no rabbits were harmed during this photo shoot. ---
on one of the final days of our vacation, we visited the glow worm and ruakuri caves in waitomo, a few hours outside of auckland. en route, we happened to notice a quirky little red building called the shearing shed, advertising angora rabbit products and a free demonstration. i love demonstrations. i took a quick look in our lonely planet book, and saw that the place had a rabbit shearing demo everyday at 12.45pm. at 11.55am we found ourselves done with the first cave, with plenty of time before we were scheduled for the next one. so, we had a quick lunch next door at the huhu cafe and headed on over to the shearing shed, right on time.
how cute is he??
the shearing shed is a little store that features a variety of tourist souvenirs, such as magnets, t- shirts, possum-fur products (one of the most loathed, european-introduced pests in the country), and wool accessories. the main focus, however, is their large inventory of angora rabbit/merino wool yarn and handcrafted accessories (hats, baby booties, etc), made from a local german angora rabbit farm. the farm has 350 rabbits, and is the only farm of its' kind in the country.
shelves of yarn
because the rabbits have very wrinkly skin, they have to be stretched out for shearing, to avoid accidentally cutting them. even though the pictures below look like the rabbit is being tortured, he really isn't. i promise. the ladies explained that the rabbits must be sheared four times a year, otherwise they would overheat and die. the spca is in frequent contact, and they say the rabbits couldn't be in a better place. they are well cared for, never killed for skins or used for animal testing, and are raised to live a full life. once they pass away, they are buried.
the yarn they produce has a very high angora rabbit hair percentage of 30%. the other 70% is wool. because of the loose nature of the rabbit hair fibers, it has to be blended with other fibers in order to make yarn. even though i'm not a knitter (i knitted a scarf once, maybe four years ago), i couldn't help but buy some yarn because it was so silky and soft. their yarn costs 10nzd (roughly 7usd and 5 euro) per 50 grams and come in the following colors:
they don't have a website, but if you're interested in more information, you can email them at shearingshed (at) xtra (dot) com. if you happen to be visiting the area anytime soon, their address is: Waitomo Caves Road, Waitomo Caves 3977, Waikato, New Zealand