A potato farmer from Manawatu has been named the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year, winning the coveted golden gumboot trophy and prizes including a $17,000 quad bike.

Paul Olsen from Opiki looked stunned when he was announced the winner, later telling the Herald he had won only one challenge throughout the week.

But organisers of the popular event at the annual national agricultural expo near Hamilton said judges were looking for the all-round package including farm skills, confidence, attitude, crowd interaction as well as honesty, intelligence, enthusiasm and a sense of humour.

Mr Olsen, or "Spud", agreed he was a bit shocked at the win and that some of the other seven bachelors outshone him in the challenges, which included cooking, quad-bike skills, animal handling, a tractor pull, digger driving and blind dates with 10 "gumboot girl" bachelorettes.


The 35-year-old, who won the fencing challenge, thanked sponsors for making the competition happen.

"Sponsorship is crucial, especially in the rural sector, I believe, in the current environment too."

He also thanked his fellow competitors for an "amazing" week.

"The highlight for me is probably how we've brought a whole lot of individuals together and we've actually really clicked. We've had a great week socially and that's what it's all about, the camaraderie between us all, it's awesome."

He was coy about whether he had hit it off with any of the bachelorettes and said he would "see what happens".

As well as the quad bike, Mr Olsen won a $2000 Swanndri voucher and clothing and walked away with work boots and gumboots from Skellerup.

The People's Choice award went to Australian Rob Ewing, who donated his prizes -- including a $1000 Swanndri voucher -- to the Cambridge Riding for the Disabled.

Mr Ewing said it had been a whirlwind week and he had made some lifelong friends.

"They're a great bunch of blokes and I wouldn't change anything."

As for romance, he hadn't "found the one" yet but said he made some friendships with the bachelorettes.

"They're all really good girls and I'd like to catch up with them again in a year or two."