Tears were flowing and noses running on Saturday as seven brave men took part in the Rotorua heat of the New Zealand Chilli Eating Champs.

They all stepped up to the plate but only one was victorious.

Competition organiser and Fire Dragon Chillies owner Clint Meyer said the rules were simple - no drinking, no leaving the table and no throwing up.

Two-time New Zealand champion Joshua Shotter, centre, came out on top, narrowly beating out Tommy Thiessen. Photo/Ben Fraser
Two-time New Zealand champion Joshua Shotter, centre, came out on top, narrowly beating out Tommy Thiessen. Photo/Ben Fraser

"You have to be pretty crazy to enter, have a cast iron stomach and like hot chillies."

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The chillies get hotter every round, starting with a jalapeno and moving on to habaneros, Brazilian ghost chillies and scorpion moruga chillies. There were chicken wings and a hot corn chip thrown in.

One chilli was named the seven pot chilli.

"There's enough fire in this chilli to fire up seven pots of stew, that's why it's called that," Meyer said.

Ultimately two-time New Zealand champion Joshua Shotter came out on top, narrowly beating out Tommy Thiessen.

The heat was Shotter's third competition this year and he's already qualified for the New Zealand finals on May 26.

"It's just the rush of it, doing something you know the majority of people can't," he said.

"The guy who came second had me a bit worried. I was willing him to grab that milk but I could have had another chilli."

Shotter said the win was all in the food preparation.

"I have a bowl of chips or something like that before, then a tin of creamed rice an hour before then I usually have a glass of milk five minutes before."

Thiessen went through 14 rounds before he broke. He was just out for a drink with his family when he saw the sign and signed up.

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After the competition, Thiessen said the milk was helping but the heat was coming back.

"I couldn't see past the table. Actually the first one was hot, it shocked the system."

In the lead up the national final, heats are being held around the country. The heat winners will face off on May 26 in Auckland as part of the third annual New Zealand Hot Sauce Festival.