Demand from sportswear and fashion companies is sending the price of a previously written-off type of wool to record levels.
This has led the dual-purpose corriedale sheep breed to make a comeback, after many farmers chose to shift to more meat breeds.
Corriedale wool is in the mid-micron range, coarser than most merino fibre, but far finer than crossbred wool that comprises most of the New Zealand clip.
Once prized by New Zealand and Australian dryland farmers, corriedales have been pushed aside over the past 20 years or so as farmers chased more lambs as the expense of quality wool.
Corriedales were developed by crossing fine-wooled merinos and meaty lincoln sheep more than a century ago.
The breed handles dry conditions, but in the past was often criticised for having low fertility, poor mothering ability, low lamb survivability and being susceptible to footrot.
When lamb prices were high and wool returns low, many farmers turned to highly fertile composite breeds and for some, wool became little more than a by-product.
In 2000, the McKinsey report on the state of the wool industry saw no future for mid-micron sheep like corriedale and halfbred.
But nearly 20 years later, the corriedale is a much improved breed and with it's fibre now being in demand again, more farmers are buying corriedale rams, particularly in Canterbury.
PGG Wrightson wool representative Peter McCusker said he had seen a swing back in the last two years "with these higher wool prices and after the drought in north Canterbury".
"Growers who'd got out of corriedales and into a crossbred composite breeds for more lamb production are now realising the corriedale can withstand dry conditions and bounces back quicker."
Corriedale breeders have addressed the breed's perceived shortcomings, McCusker said.
"The modern corriedale has been selected for fertility, mothering ability, footrot resistance and lamb survivability. Breeders have been very progressive with any technology that's been out there to make that breed more suitable with a good cross section of desirable traits," he said.
Wool finer than 28.5 micron, which includes much of the corriedale clip, is now in demand by apparel producers.
"Many of your leading sports and apparel brands now have wool in their product range and that's putting pressure on the supply chain and that's a great position for a producer to be in," McCusker said.
At the last sale, 27 micron clean wool was $10.75 a kilogram, an increase in value not seen for some time.