The Bay of Plenty's best excavator operator is honing his egg-carrying and slam-dunk skills as he prepares for next month's Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) National Excavator Operator Competition.

Whakatane's Craig Crowley from Crowley Excavators won the Bay of Plenty competition last June at Mystery Creek.

He will join the winners from nine other regions along with 2017 defending national champion, Steve Galbraith from Hawkes Bay, to battle it out at the Central Districts Field Days at Manfeild Park in Feilding on March 16 and 17.

Craig's son Brandon competed in the event last year and won third place plus the "One-Day Job" award.


The competition tests excavator operators' skills. Using a 12 tonne Hitachi digger, competitors have to complete such tricky tasks as pouring a cup of tea, slam dunking a basketball, popping a champagne cork and transporting an egg.

"It's a great event for families and spectators. These operators are the best in the business. We encourage everyone to come down and watch these enormous machines undertake very intricate tasks," said competition manager Tricia Logan.

The two-day event comprises four elements:

• Main course – competitors complete 12 to 15 activities in 60 minutes using 12-tonne Hitachi excavators, including pouring a cup of tea, and a series of excavation exercises;

• Emergency scenario – contestants must respond well to a realistic emergency situation involving first-aid skills and emergency response;

• The "CablePrice Mini Digger" event – competitors are judged on how well they brief and relate to young children to operate a 1.7 tonne Hitachi mini excavator.

• "One Day Job" event – competitors must construct something using a 5-tonne machine. The task is equivalent to a full day task but must be completed in just 60 minutes and be scoped, priced and planned by the competitor.

The event aimed to raise the profile of a growing industry that is increasingly embracing new technology. The construction and maintenance industry carries out $12 billion of work annually, employing 60,000 workers including excavator operators.

The competition is held on a site located in the Contractors' corner in the southeast of the Field Days' site at Manfeild Park, Feilding.

Central Districts Field Days are open 9am until 4.30pm on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th March and Saturday 17th March between 9am and 4pm.