Rural Games a success in Palmerston North in spite of on-and-off rain
The first Hilux Rural Games to be held in Palmerston North brought thousands of people to the central city as they braved the showers.
Visitor numbers visibly increased when the rain eased and the sun poked through.
Rural Games athletes hefted a stone for the stone-put and tossed the caber in a kilt.
A titanic trans-Tasman battle was won by New Zealand with Reuben de Jong claiming a 'threepeat' individual victory. The Auckland strongman remains undefeated at every Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.
Games founder and trustee Steve Hollander said the move to Manawatu this year had paid off.
"Our first two years in Queenstown were fantastic but the welcome we've received here in the agri heartland of New Zealand has been phenomenal. I feel as though the games have found their spiritual home," he said.
"Everyone stepped up this year to take the games to a whole new level – sponsors, patrons, rural sports associations, event crew and of course our wonderful volunteers who worked tirelessly through all weathers to deliver an amazing games." said Hollander.
Kiwis took on the Aussies again in the wood chopping and the KNew Zealand team came out on top.
Olympians Dame Valerie Adams and Mahe Drysdale made appearances in unfamiliar sports. The double gold medallists swapped shot puts and rowing oars for gumboots as wild card entries in the New Zealand Gumboot Throwing Championship.
Drysdale finished an uncharacteristic last in the men's competition that was won by James Kellow of Whanganui with a throw of 42.24m.
Dame Valerie took the women's title comfortably with a throw of 34.38m, beating Bulls local Charlotte Symes into second place by five metres. The golden girl of athletics also mixed with spectators and took part in the cowpat tossing contest.
Australia won the tree climbing contest.
Hawera policewoman Carly Toiaroa won the do-itself (DIY) challenge title with her mother, Roselle Ballantine from Palmerston North.
Regional rivalry was at stake as sheep dog trials returned to the games after a year's absence Mixed four-person teams of the best dog handlers from Manawatu and Wairarapa competed in the main events arena with the local team of Merv Williams, Kathryn Oliver, Don White and Tim Stevenson taking the win.
Current and former members of national teams including Black Caps, Black Sox softballers and Black Diamonds baseballers lined up in the NZ Egg Throwing & Catching Championship.
Final placings saw last year's runners up, amateur athletes Nick Hornstein from Melbourne and Robbie Hollander from Dairy Flat, go one better to win the trophy from Central Stags cricketers Bevan Small and Dane Cleaver in second and Black Diamonds Riki Paewai and Taylor Simmons in third.
Wet conditions meant there was no new world record and the New Zealand record, set last year by Olympic decathlete Brent Newdick and his mate Luke Wainui, remained intact.
Newdick had to console himself with a win in the cowpat tossing.
Spectators young and old took part in a series of sports, such as speed milking, wine barrel racing, olive stone-spitting and kids tried tree climbing.
The games ended with the New Zealand speed shearing competition. The 10 best shearers in the country, including the current and previous world champions Johnny Kirkpatrick and Rowland Smith, were whittled down to a thrilling two-sheep final of Dion King (Napier) against Jimmy Samuels (Marton). Dion led throughout to take a narrow win and cheers from an enthusiastic crowd.