Sport and farming come together next weekend at the fifth annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games.

Everything from gumboot throwing to coal shovelling to tree climbing is on the schedule, even Red Bandal racing.

Rural games founder and trust board member Steve Hollander told Jamie Mackay on The Country the offering was also heavily focused on free events for children, with a growing array of activities.

He said there were "wonderful programmes" for children and that the Kids 'n Country area would be bigger than ever.


"We've got three diggers this year ... tree climbing for the kids and ... for the first time we've got ... 'Kids n Kartz' [with] the little ponies with the karts on the back and all of the usual agri-sports that all of our city kids can get involved in having a go at."

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People will be able to see Golden Shears open final winner Rowland Smith and shearing gun Jack Fagan in action as they are both competing in the Speed Shear said Hollander.

Held in The Square, Palmerston North, the Games is New Zealand's premier celebration of rural sports, attracting more than 200 athletes from a diverse range of disciplines from both sides of the Tasman. This year's event is on March 9 and 10.

Hollander said the aim was to celebrate rural sports, provide rural athletes with a national platform on which to perform, and deliver some welcome light relief for everyone.

Many celebrity sports people will attend the Games, from netball's Irene van Dyk and Katrina Gore (nee Grant) to Sir Brian Lochore, extreme fisher Matt Watson and the immensely popular Jordan Watson aka 'How to Dad'.

Plus the team from Trillian Trek along with Simon Dallow and Mark Wright will crash the Games on Sunday afternoon.

For a full list of events, visit