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Hilux New Zealand Rural Games showcase traditional sports

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The Hilux New Zealand Rural Games, now in its second year, will be in Queenstown on February 6 and 7 with a new competition set to challenge female contenders.    

The Mitre 10 NZ Women’s DIY Challenge is a new event on the programme for 2016, requiring contestants to build a playhouse and erect a fence at the Queenstown Recreation Ground.

“There’s lots of events for the guys, so we thought a specific challenge for the ladies would add to the Games,” said Steve Hollander, the founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.

Billed as a showcase for ‘sports that built the nation’, last year’s successful event saw nearly 200 competitors take part in 13 New Zealand national and Trans-Tasman championships including sheep dog trials, coal shovelling, wood chopping, speed shearing, speed fencing and gumboot throwing plus the ‘have-a-go’ Wild Buck Challenges.

“The Games are not intended to usurp rural Field Days and the annual A&P shows around the country,” said Mr Hollander. “A number of our events have qualifying competitions at those long standing events around the country.”

The Games’ inclusive nature means that entry is free to everyone, spectators and competitors alike.

Sixteen national and Trans-Tasman championships will be decided over the two days, some of which have a serious competitive element, while others are held for the fun and enjoyment of competitors and spectators alike.

Among the more serious events is the Toyota Hilux NZ Speed Shear Championship, the last event on Sunday, where multiple World Champion David Fagan will take on the best shearers from around New Zealand, while the ANZAXE Trans-Tasman Wood Chopping Championship will pit the best axe men from both sides of the Ditch against one another.

Trans-Tasman bragging rights will also be up for grabs in the speed tree climbing championships while Kiwi locals battle from pillar to post in the national speed fencing championship.

Some of the less serious events include the egg throwing and catching championship, speed gold panning, cherry stone spitting and wine barrel racing. And anybody can also have a go at the Hilux hay bale stacking competition, when people have to stack hay bales onto the tray of a Hilux Ute.

Top decathlete Brent Newdick will compete in the Gumboot throwing, while the speed hand milking will highlight a lost skill from the cowshed.

Beach Street in Queenstown will be closed from late afternoon on Saturday 6th February for the “Running of the Wools” when around 400 Merino sheep flurry through town.

The same venue will also host a coal shovelling relay between local rugby teams, Police and Fire service and West Coast miners taking on the stokers from Lake Wakatipu’s signature steam boat, the Earnslaw.

Another new event on Beach Street will be the Mitre 10 Mega Man and Mutt race, when 15 of the region’s fastest Young Farmers run up and down the length of the street in gumboots with their dogs, with the first pair to finish together winning.