Shearing World Championships "exceeded all expectations"

ILT Stadium Southland general manager said about 4300 people attended the finals of the shearing on Saturday February 11.
Robyn Edie

ILT Stadium Southland general manager said about 4300 people attended the finals of the shearing on Saturday February 11.

Invercargill has taken the World Shearing Championships to a new level, and opened doors for more big events in the future. 

Representatives from both the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships and ILT Stadium Southland gave a glowing review of the event, which attracted attention locally and internationally. 

World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships committee chairman Tom Wilson said the tournament "exceeded all expectations".

"For anyone who has been involved in the shearing champs before, this has taken things to a new level."

As well as the venue itself at ILT Stadium Southland, Wilson said he was impressed by the event's organisation and the support from the Southland public.

"The way everybody pulled together, logistically there was no real issue with anything.

"The community buy-in has been tremendous, and I think the future for world events are more wide open than they were before."

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said the event was a huge test, but highlighted the versatility of the arena.

As well as the unique challenge of dealing with more than 4000 sheep, throughout the week the venue had to be reconfigured three times a day. 

"It was a massive logistical challenge, but we're delighted with the way the venue has held up."

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Skelt said the success of the tournament could also open the door to introducing circus or rodeo events, along with more shearing competitions. 

The event is also likely to have a wider impact on the Southland economy as well. 

Venture Southland tourism team leader Warrick Low said while they were "still crunching the numbers" with regards to visitor numbers and economic impact, the initial feedback had been very positive.

"We're looking at a nice representation of international, North Island and South Island visitors, along with local Southlanders.

"The feedback from people has been that this has set the new standard (for shearing events) in terms of a venue and organisation."

Low also said the $260,000 worth of funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was well justified by the success of the week. 

"It's shown once again that this is a region that just gets things done, even if we don't go and shout it from the rooftops." 

The influx of visitors for the world championships also gave a lift to an already buoyant tourist market. 

Hotels and motels were full throughout Invercargill all last week. 

Balmoral Lodge Hotel manager Joanne Harris said it was great to have the event held in town.

"It's been completely full here, just like everywhere else, and the people that stayed were wonderful.

"Most of them were there for the whole week, and a lot of them said they would be travelling around the country afterwards."

Admiral Court Motel owner Ivy Wu said it was similarly busy, with most of the visitors staying in town for four or five days.

Bella Vista Motel manager Kelly Leys said the week added another level to what was already a very busy tourist season, with attractions such as Bill Richardson's Transport World proving popular with visitors. 

"It's unbelievable – it's very busy but it's great.

"There's been a little bit of a drop-off since the shearing but it's still pretty strong really, we've been fully booked so far this week."

 - Stuff

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