Kiwifruit is part of the genus actinidia. Climbing plants native to China and grown there for many centuries. In 1904, New Zealander Isabel Fraser brought home seeds of actinidia deliciosa, and so the first kiwifruit came to be grown in New Zealand soil.

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 the horticultural scientist Hayward Wright launched the Hayward variety, a large kiwifruit with a delicious taste and long shelf life. Zespri Green kiwifruit is a direct descendant.

There are numerous varieties of green kiwifruit, such as the elongated Bruno & Abbott varieties, and the Monty variety. In China, the Qin-Mei is the best-known kiwifruit, whilst in Japan it’s the Koryoku. Each variety has its own characteristics, which are naturally adapted to local soil and weather conditions. These lesser-known kiwifruit varieties tend to be marketed locally rather than exported, so you probably won’t find them at your local supermarket. Intensive selection work carried out by Zespri and its partner Plant & Food resulted in the development of Zespri SunGold, part of the Actinidia chinensis species.