It's hard work finding the perfect sausage - it takes two days, with almost 50 judges tasting more than 460 entries.

And the top banger in the country is a pork sausage made by Village Butcher in Havelock North.

Owner Paul Greany said: "When I found out I had won I was over the moon, I couldn't breathe I was so excited. It means a lot and shows I have pride in what I do."

The People's Choice award went to New World Milford on the North Shore with a venison and blackcurrant sausage.


Butchery manager Quentin Steven said: "We only started making sausages two months ago, so we're really pleased with how well we did."

Now in its 20th year, the New Zealand Sausage Competition drew 461 entries in 10 different categories.

By 10.30am on the second day of judging there had already been some standouts.

Head judge and food writer Kerry Tyack said the first thing the bangers were judged on was their "fidelity to style" - how well they fit into their category - then how good an example they were of that style before assessing flavour, appearance and consistency.

The judges were assigned different categories to mark and some of those were traditional pork, pre-cooked, traditional flavoured and gourmet.

Each entry was judged both uncooked and cooked. Marks awarded during the uncooked stage included whether the casing was filled correctly, if it had a "fresh, clean aroma" and the meat to fat ratio.

Cooked, the sausages were marked on whether they had burst, if they "stimulate the palate", flavour and aftertaste.

Mr Tyack said New Zealand butchers had finely tuned their skills and were now producing sausages much lower in fat and salt.


He was impressed with the calibre of the entries ... "And then there's those which are exceptional."

One of the other judges was Abi Lane, 27, from Pak 'n' Save in Hokitika who won Apprentice Butcher of the Year in 2011 and came second in the 2012 Young Butcher of the Year.

She judged the saveloy/polony/ cocktail, pre-cooked/barbecue and continental categories.

She told the Weekend Herald the sausage being marked was one of the best she'd tried. "It has a good balance of flavours. It just leaves you wanting to have more."