New Zealand’s largest rural sporting event set to hit Palmerston North

Prepare yourselves for an exhilarating weekend as the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games descends upon Palmerston North! From Thursday March 7th – 10th, Rural Sports athletes from all corners of the nation, and some from the other island, will gather to witness the grandeur of New Zealand’s largest rural sporting extravaganza.

Palmerston North will be buzzing with excitement as spectators and participants alike come together for a celebration of our country’s rural heritage. From the iconic Sheepdog Trials and Highland Games to the unconventional contests like egg roulette and cowpat throwing, there’s something for everyone at this spectacular event!

“The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games celebrates our nation’s rich rural traditions while embracing the quirky and unconventional. This year, we’re proud to offer an expanded lineup of activities, ensuring there’s never a dull moment!”

Steve Hollander, the inspiration behind the events

Prepare for epic showdowns as reigning champions defend their titles in major championship clashes. From the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® championships to the Forest Industry Contractors Association Golden Loader title, the competition promises to be fierce and electrifying.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there! New activation, including axe throwing, chainsaw sculpture, and the traditional Māori team game Kī-o-rahi, and Rural Fire slip and slide (bring a change of clothes) promise to elevate the thrill to new heights.

In a heartwarming gesture amidst the cost-of-living pressures, the event organisers have ensured accessibility for all. Thanks to the support of Horizons Regional Council, free buses will be available on Saturday and Sunday, making it easier than ever to join the festivities. Additionally, Palmerston North Lions Club will offer gold-coin parking in Railway Land Reserve, with proceeds benefiting Palmerston North Hospital’s renal unit.

Prepare to be pampered as STIHL brings “Sharpest Cuts” with free haircuts for men and boys, ensuring everyone looks their best while enjoying the festivities. Both STIHL and Cocky will have stores selling merchandise and tools. Plus, a relaxation zone and disability parking booking system have been implemented to enhance the experience for all attendees.

With renowned MCs, exciting prizes, and a lineup of thrilling events, the Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games promises an unforgettable experience for the whole family – especially with dozens of activities for under 12s to take part in.

Our MCs include Rowena Duncum, Erin Speedy, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins and Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson.

Attendees can create their own schedule using the Rural Games Whotsonwhere App – by registering they go in the draw for prizes drawn throughout the Weekend.

Our TV3 1-hr Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games programme presented by TV3 Sports Reporter Tia McDougall, Farm4Life’s Tangaroa Walker and the legendary Mark Leishman will run:

  • 5pm on Saturday March 30th
  • 9:30am on Saturday April 6th

The Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games livestream will run on Rural Games social media channels across the weekend.

Images for use from our 2023 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games can be found here.

Information about other events across the four days

Agri Futures Clash of the Colleges and Food and Fibre Career Pathways

60 teams of students from secondary schools from the Wairarapa to New Plymouth, Taupo and Hastings will compete in 15 modules that will test their farm and forestry skills, alongside rural sports. Of note shearing legends Rowland Smith, Sir David Fagan will be on hand to aid and assist students putting a handpiece together. MCed by social media sensation and dairy farmer Tangaroa Walker from Farm4Life.

Alongside that, ten food and fibre training organisations will provide career advice to those considering a job in the food and fibre sector.

Ford New Zealand Rural Sports Awards

More than 430 people from the world of rural sports and across the food and fibre sector will gather for this auspicious occasion at Awapuni Racing Centre in Palmerston North. Guest presenters include Olympic Swimmer  Lewis Clareburt, Olympic Rower and America’s Cup Grider Joseph Sullvan, mental skills coach for the All Blacks Gilbert Enoka ONZM,, Paralympian Javelin Thrower Holly Robinson MNZM, Associate Minister for Agriculture Andrew Hoggard and the legend that is Shearing World Record Holder Sacha Bond.

MacDougall Rural Challenge Chairty Golf

30 teams will take part in a 4-ball Ambrose team event at Manawatu Golf Course on Thursday 7 March – raising funds for Manawatū Rangitīkei Rural Family Support Trust.

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® New Zealand Rookies Championship

  • Jack Matthews – Hokitika
  • Sam Bellamy – Stratford
  • Jack Richards – Otautau
  • Jordon Thomas – Warkworth
  • Matt Gower – Whangamomona
  • Cleveland Cherry (reigning champ) – Tokoroa
  • Sam Unahi – Invercargill
  • Scott Matthews – Hokitika
  • Will Hoyle Victoria Australia

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® New Zealand Ladies Championship

  • Darcel Apelu – Mt Manganui
  • Sheree Taylor – Te Aroha
  • Nat Paterson – Whydham
  • Anne Paterson (reigning champ) – Black Butt, Australia
  • Raewyn Windley – Rolleston
  • Karen Corbin – Riverton
  • Alma Wallace – Otaki
  • Emma Riddell -Nelson
  • Kylea Heaton – Hamilton
  • Louise Nalder – Greymouth
  • Shannon Hodgetts – Kirwee
  • Kayla Molloy-Jensen – Hokitika

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® New Zealand Mens Championship

  • Chris Lord – Otorohanga
  • Kyle Lemon – Rotorua
  • Nathan McDonald – Waiuku
  • Shane Jordan – Taranaki
  • Jesse Whitehead – Christchurch
  • Neil Hateley – Westport
  • Hayden Rasmussen – Otaki
  • Bobby Dowling – Adelaide, Australia
  • Jack Jordan (reigning champ) – Taumarunui
  • Laurie Honey – Rotorua

Golden Loader New Zealand Championship | Te Whakataetae mō te hiki me te heke rākau with Forest Industry Contractors Association

  • Daniel Purcell (reigning champ) from CJ Newland, Whanganui
  • Max Gibson from Mangoihe Logging Company Ltd of Hunterville
  • Sean Robertson from Robertson Logging & Contracting ltd of Stratford
  • Kaitlin Taylor of Garnett Logging Ltd of Napier
  • John Tuckey from Tuckey logging LTD of Masterton
  • Colin Bush from ATS Logging of Napier
  • Travis Young from Newton Harvesting Ltd
  • Kane Carter from JD Harvesting of Weber
  • Kelvin Bouskill from Havendale Logging of Masterton
  • Tracey Keefe from McCormick Logging of Rotorua
  • Grant Buckendahl of Speedy Harvesting from Marton
  • Hariata Wipaki from Moutere Logging Ltd of Ohakune
  • James MacFarlane from Bay Forest Harvesting of Hastings
  • Jason Howe from Mills Albert Forestry of Kapiti

Sam Strahan Sheep Dog Trial Challenge | Te Whakamātau Kurī Whiuwhiu Hipi with PTS Logistics

Woman’s Team

  • Anita Kendrick with Vaida
  • Kate White with Egg and Betty
  • Bridget Henson with Eve and Ted
  • Jo McIntrye with Tim and Guy

Men’s Team

  • Paul Evans with Trump
  • Neil Evans with Tess and Smoke
  • Josh Brennan with Tadpole and Rock
  • Gavin Martin with Sid and Turk Judge is Pat Coogan

New Zealand Coal Shovelling with MacIntosh Farm Machinery and Bathurst

  • Richard Banks Snr

New Zealand Gumboot Throwing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Maka Kamupūtu O Aotearoa with Skellerup

North Island

  • Kristin Churchward (reigning champion) – Taihape
  • Stuart McNie – Raetihi
  • Martha Broughton
  • Rebecca Port – Ashhurst
  • Richard Port – Ashhurst

South Island

  • Owen Gilbert – Taihape
  • Kieran Fowler – Dunedin
  • Lorenzo Faulo
  • Eugene Zeelie
  • Susan Holdt – Canterbury
  • Amy Ridpath – Canterbury

The Sir Eion Edgar Southern Hemisphere Highlander Champion | Te Tātāwhāinga Tuakoi Tonga O Ngā Toa Kahupeka with Deutz-Fhar

  • Jono Macfarlane – Pohangina
  • Jarna Mihaere – Dannevirke
  • Carl Waitoa – Palmerston North
  • Craig Manson – Ashburton
  • Kane Paterson – Canterbury
  • Adam Miller – Palmerston North
  • Faleono Tasi – Palmerston North
  • Andrew Wain – Tauranga

NZ Fencing Competitions presents the Future Post Speed Fencing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Whakatū Taiapa Hohoro O Aotearoa brought to you with Stockade

  • Shane Bouskill (reigning champ) – Tirokino, Central Hawke’s Bay
  • Tony Bouskill – Napier
  • Burne Maxted – Manawatu/Whanganui
  • Sander Visser – Wellington
  • Bernard Condon – Hawke’s Bay
  • Burne Maxted – Feilding
  • Bradley Fountain – Palmerston North
  • Tim Garrick – Poverty Bay
  • Jared Baines – Manawatu/Whanganui

The Tony Chapman New Zealand Speed Shearing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Kuti Hipi Hohoro O Aotearoa with Entain

  • Leon Samuels – Invercargill
  • Lionel Taumata – Gore
  • Jack Fagan – Te Kuiti
  • Paerata Abraham – Masterton
  • Jimmy Samuels – Marton
  • Chris Dickson – Masterton
  • Digger Balme – Ōtorohanga – 37th season open class season
  • Toa Henderson – Kaiwaka
  • David Gordon – Wellington
  • Brett Roberts – Mataura

The Tony Chapman New Zealand Speed Shearing Championship | Te Tātāwhāinga Kuti Hipi Hohoro O Aotearoa with Entain

  • Brianna Uivel – Auckland
  • Sam Smith – Auckland
  • Noel Galloway – Waikato
  • Steph Dryfout – Bay of Plenty
  • Sam Fraser – Hawke’s Bay
  • Dominik Ritter – Otago
  • Callum Toms – Wellington
  • Ruby McNab – Christchurch

The North Island Secondary School Shearing Championship

  • Feilding High School (reigning champions)
  • Palmerston North Boys’ High School


New Zealand’s largest rural sporting event set to hit Palmerston North

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