Site map

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)

Arapawa buck
Adult Arapawa buck

Arapawa Goats – Breed Standard


The Arapawa goat breed can be traced back to goats left on Arapawa Island during Captain Cook’s voyages to New Zealand on Resolution. Urban legend had it that one or some of these goats were Old English goats, however recent DNA evidence proves the Arapawa goats’ origins are predominantly South African. (Old English goat genes cannot be completely ruled out as they have been 'improved' to extinction and a comparison with their DNA has not been possible). Because of a ‘goat control programme’ operated by the Department of Conservation, and which has been ongoing since the 1970s, at Betty Rowe’s initiative a number of goats were taken off the island and given sanctuary by people determined to protect the integrity of the breed. All goats now scientifically proven to be purebred Arapawa goats, and registered as such, can be linked back to David Hughes, Michael Trotter, Michael Willis, Bev Trowbridge, and/or Alison Sutherland. Any introduction of new lines must be DNA proven before they can be registered with the NZ Arapawa Goat Association (NZAGA).

General Appearance:

The standard Arapawa goat is a small, light-framed animal with all parts of the body in balanced proportion relative to its size. The buck presents as heavier in the head, neck and forequarters than the more refined doe. All Arapawa goats have distinctly patterned faces, which are long and narrow; dark brown or black-striped facial markings are distinctive features of the Arapawa breed. The ears are placed at the upper part of the skull and are small and expressive. Horns should be present and symmetrical, with the does’ sweeping up towards the back, and the mature bucks’ sweeping up, back and curling outwards. The overall picture is that of an alert, good-natured, attractive animal. Arapawa goats do not have tassels (i.e. wattles).


Does and bucks are considered mature at 24 months. As a general guideline, height at withers of a mature animal should be 61-71 cms (24-28 inches) for females and 66-76 cms (26 to 30 inches) for males.

Desirable Features:
Arapawa face
Facial features

Distinguishing male from female: Sexual differences between doe and buck should be immediately obvious.

Eyes: Full of expression, alert and bright, the Arapawa goats’ eyes have an amber iris and a black pupil.

Head and Neck: Strong and in proportion to the length of the body. The head is wide at the eyes and tapers to form a distinct bridge at the nose. Some (male and female) sport elegant goatee beards.

Back: Must be strong, broad and relatively straight. The presence of a dorsal stripe or shading along the centre of the spine is expected.

Loins: Should give the appearance of strength. These attach to a wide, generous croup.

Croup: Continues the topline, and should have a gently sloping appearance to allow for easy kidding.

Tail: Short in relation to the body, carried gaily, pointing upwards.

Ears: The ears are pixie type that, when folded, reach just below the eye level.

Limbs: The front legs should be in proportion to the depth of the body. The legs should be straight, strong and well placed, with strong pastern joints and well-formed, dark hooves.

Colour: Arapawa goats vary in colour but are predominantly black, tan or ginger, brown, white and cream in varying combinations, with dark brown or black badger stripes on the face.   [See the Gallery for examples of a variety of coat colours.]

Coat: Lustrous and in good condition, free of foreign debris and parasites, the coat can be long on the hind quarters (petticoat), or all over, with some fringing along the back. In winter they have fine, matted underwool coats.

Doe (Nanny): A strong emphasis on femininity. The round-bellied look of the Old English goat breeds, slender and fine-boned. The horns of the does are round, shorter than the bucks and curve backwards over the head. The doe should appear finer than the buck. Both her fore and hind legs should appear strong, but correspondingly finer and more delicate than the male’s.

Buck (Billy): A strong emphasis on masculinity. The round-bellied look of the Old English goat breeds, but should be solid and stocky. Flattened, wide-sweeping horns. The buck’s body structure should show more massive muscling than that of the doe.

Note: The NZAGA only recognises goats identified as being DNA or Ancestry-proven Arapawa, as listed on the NZAGA Registry. The exception to this is wethered animals where both parents are registered. The Arapawa goats are a heritage goat breed that developed in New Zealand over hundreds of years. As such, every healthy animal that continues the genetic line is important to the breeding programme. However some physical characteristics are clearly incompatible with the accepted general appearance of the Arapawa goat, while others are preferred or considered more desirable. As a guideline, the following are recommendations for show purposes:

Undesirable Features:

Does not necessarily lead to disqualification:

Arched or sway back, Chicken-boned, Visible teeth, Toes pointing outwards, knock knees, Lack of masculinity in bucks, Uneven udder, Steep croup, Supernumerary teats.

Reasons for disqualification include:

Tassels, Bent or twisted facial expression, Divided or uneven scrotum, One testicle or undescended testicles.

Alison Sutherland, 2021

Arapawa doe with kids
Adult Arapawa doe with kids
Return to Breed Description

Contents menu

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

Ma pango ma whero ka oti te mahi

XHTML and CSS Valid icons