Wild West comes to Northland

Waimamaku was once again invaded by cowboys, highway robbers, country dancers and fake cheeses as the South Hokianga settlement hosted its annual Wild West Fest on Saturday. One of Northland’s most unusual festivals, this year’s event featured a wearable arts parade, keg-throwing and firefighting challenges, food stalls, lots of horses, cheese-rolling contests with yellow tyres standing in for the real thing, and a deafening shoot-out staged by the South Hokianga Riders, with much of the action taking place on State Highway 12. Donations were extracted from passing motorists by gun-toting bandits with the proceeds going to Hokianga Health. The event started 14 years ago as a Northland version of Hokitika’s Wild Food Festival but somehow morphed into a cowboy-themed festival. Photos by Peter de Graaf.