The Kiwifruit Family

kiwi_icon Kiwifruit in all their shapes and sizes

The kiwifruit belongs to the Actinidia, a climbing plant that has already been well known in China for many centuries. In 1904 Isabel Fraser brought seeds of the Actinidia deliciosa with her to New Zealand, and this was how the first kiwifruit came to be grown on New Zealand soil. You can read more about this in the section ‘history of the kiwi’.

A lot of expertise and experience, as well as a healthy dose of patience, are needed to grow good kiwifruit. Following a meticulous process of cross-fertilisation and selection, a whole host of kiwifruit varieties have come into being all over the world over the last hundred years. For example in 1928 horticultural scientist Hayward Wright launched the Hayward variety – a large kiwifruit with a delicious taste and long shelf life. Zespri Green Kiwifruit are their descendants. There are numerous varieties of green kiwifruit, such as the elongated Bruno or Abbott families, the Monty variety. In China the Qin-Mei is the best-known kiwifruit, whilst in Japan it’s the ‘Koryoku’. Every variety has its own characteristics, which have naturally adapted to the soil and the local weather conditions. The intensive selection work carried out by Zespri and its partner Plant & Food Research resulted in the Zespri SunGold, belonging to the Actinidia chinensis species. And that is how we brought you the ever popular, sweet variety called SunGold!

The constant
search for new
Zespri Kiwifruit

The golden-yellow Zespri Kiwifruit illustrates it perfectly: innovation runs in Zespri’s veins. Our experts are permanently looking for new varieties that are even more delicious, contain more vitamins, can be kept for longer, etc.


  • In our cultivation process and orchard management
  • In storage, distribution, marketing and sales
  • In our approach to quality and sustainability
  • In our plant breeding programme

Zespri is constantly looking for new types of kiwifruit, so that you can enjoy kiwifruit in even more varied ways. In close consultation with growers, researchers and customers, we have set up the largest, most advanced plant-breeding programme in the world, involving no fewer than 70,000 kiwifruit varieties. Using a complicated (and 100% natural!) process of cultivation, selection and cross-fertilisation , we look for promising seedlings which are then further cultivated by means of cuttings. A natural plant-breeding process of this kind only yields results after six to ten years! During this period the kiwifruit varieties are constantly assessed and tested, by both growers and consumers.