The competition shearing season opens on Friday with the start of the national merino championships at Alexandra in Central Otago.
About 180 shearers and wool handlers are signed up to compete in the two day event.
Doug Laing of Shearing Sports New Zealand says one of the main points of interest will be whether New Zealand shearers can win back the open merino shearing title from West Australian shearer Damien Boyle, who has taken it for the last three years in a row.
Also at stake is a place in the New Zealand team for the first leg of the trans-Tasman shearing and wool handling series at Warrnambool in Victoria later this month, he says.
There are about 60 events in the shearing sports calendar, culminating in the Golden Shears and national championships in February and March next year.