There was an abundance of claps, cheers and cowboy hats as families gathered to enjoy a day of excitement and action at the 54th annual Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo.

The rodeo was held today at the Lake Rerewhakaaitu Domain.

Events included Rope and Tie, Breakaway Roping, Steer Ride, Barrel Race and Bull Ride.

Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo secretary Christine Church said the day had been going fantastically and there were great participant numbers in all the events.

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There were 195 contestants altogether, which included riders from the North and South islands.

The rodeo also had the best stock contractors in the country there, she said.

Church said the crowd turnout was excellent, with a great atmosphere.

Eruera O'Brien, 5, (left) and Iratumiana O'Brien, 2, enjoy the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo. Photo / Ben Fraser
Eruera O'Brien, 5, (left) and Iratumiana O'Brien, 2, enjoy the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo. Photo / Ben Fraser

"People can just come and relax, we've got beautiful scenery ... and watch some spectacular, unpredictable rodeo.

"We love the sport of rodeo and we want to keep going for another 54 years.

"It's a great sport where the whole family can compete in the events available."

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Galatea's Sarah Wills and Daniel Wills, 3, attended the rodeo for the first time this year.

Wills said it had been a fun day, and that Daniel loved the rodeo - "We'll go back home and [Daniel will want to] play rodeo for the next year."

She said it was nice and relaxing to sit and watch the event after all the excitement of Christmas.

Wills said the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo was great because it had a lot of natural shade from the sun and had action going on all the time.

Daniel said he enjoyed the bull and horse riding because it was exciting.

Rotorua's Becks Treleaven was at the rodeo with her bouncy castle and horse ride business Becks Ponies.

She said two of her children were also attending the event with her, and they enjoyed all the action.

Treleaven said she had not been to the Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo for about 10 years, and it had been going great.

Miria Tauriki, 5, enjoys the sunny weather at the rodeo. Photo / Ben Fraser
Miria Tauriki, 5, enjoys the sunny weather at the rodeo. Photo / Ben Fraser

She enjoyed the bull riding because it was one of the most exciting events to watch.

In October, rodeo organisers defended the sport after animal rights group SAFE called for it to be banned following the death of a horse at the Methven Rodeo.

At the time, Rerewhakaaitu Rodeo Association president Clarry Church said what happened in Methven was a shame, but it was a freak accident.

"[Animal welfare] is first on the list, it's the priority, the animals' safety always comes first. We have rules we follow and our own code of conduct. As wild animals they could get in a fight or stuck in a fence and break their leg, it's just one of those accidents and it's very unfortunate. We don't want any animals or humans getting hurt."

For the full results from the day, go to www.rodeonz.com.