Thousands of people turned out to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere at the fourth Annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games held in The Square over the weekend.

The Games are New Zealand's premier celebration of rural sports attracting more than 200 athletes from a diverse range of disciplines from both sides of the Tasman.

New Zealand Rural Games founder and trust board member Steve Hollander says the aim is to celebrate rural sports, provide rural athletes with a national platform on which to perform and deliver some welcome light relief for everyone.

"It is a free fun event for families, and there is always something to watch or do."

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Competitors prepare for the annual NZ Rural Highland Games Heavies TransTasman Competition. Photo / Karla Karaitiana
Competitors prepare for the annual NZ Rural Highland Games Heavies TransTasman Competition. Photo / Karla Karaitiana

The 2018 Games included the old crowd favourites the ANZAXE, Speed Shear, Highland Heavies and Sheep Dog Trials.

"Kiwis have led the world in a multiple of rural sporting disciplines, and the Games are a unique opportunity to see champions from many disciplines as they face off local and international completion," says Mr Hollander who reckons this year's games were the best yet.

"Every year this event grows from strength to strength. We're now the largest event between Mystery Creek and Wellington," says Mr Hollander.

"We're aware the weekend brought large numbers of people to Palmerston North for the weekend with many local hotels were full and the Plaza shopping mall having its biggest weekend since the New Year," says Mr Hollander.

"It was fabulous to see so many sporting and media starts in town for the event - it was a real chance for young people to see their heroes and get in and have a go themselves.

"I also want to thank the people of Palmerston North and Manawatu for their hospitality - everyone had a smile on their faces! Thank you." Hollander says.

A hard pick at the 360 Workwear Bill Tapley Cow Pat Throw with Federated Farmers. Photo / Karla Karaitiana
A hard pick at the 360 Workwear Bill Tapley Cow Pat Throw with Federated Farmers. Photo / Karla Karaitiana

New Zealand Rural Games trust chair Margaret Kouvelis says the weekend weather was nothing short of spectacular after a cool start on Friday.

"It was so fantastic to see people of all ages trying out different things from tree climbing to digger driving to gumboot throwing. We are proud that our events are free. This is only possible for the generosity of our sponsors," says Mrs Kouvelis.