Northland's Lewis Nichols has taken out the 2019 Fieldays Rural Catch top honours with Charlotte Leach from Hamilton winning the hearts of the public, judges and sponsors to be crowned People's Choice.

Nichols is a heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields, based in Otorohanga.

Nichols entered the competition looking for someone who could listen to a few tractor yarns, and has come away with the experience of a lifetime.

The highlight for Nichols was meeting the other contestants, and he said they made the week such a great experience.

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"For me it was about getting out there and having some fun. This was a way to put myself out there for future employers, a way to grow and meet new people, a week off work and something else other than tractors.

2019 People's Choice Charlotte Leach and Rural Catch Lewis Nichols. Photo / Stephen Bark
2019 People's Choice Charlotte Leach and Rural Catch Lewis Nichols. Photo / Stephen Bark

Humble about his win, Nichols said he entered the competition with a positive attitude and wanted to do his best.

"It wasn't really about winning for me, I'm taking away more than just the prizes. The prizes are amazing, but the experiences are lifelong. Every one of us have got on, it's like a family, none of us want it to end," said Nichols.

When he's not busy with the tractors, Nichols can be found twisting the throttle on his dirt bike, heading up north to the family farm or enjoying a spot of fishing on the Kaipara harbour.

Nichols is also a strong advocate for mental health in the rural sector.

"Knowing what it feels like to go through the tough times many people face, I know just how important it is that there is support and campaigns to get people to speak up."

When asked why he entered Rural Catch he said he put all his energy and effort into work and had nothing left to be able to craft a killer Tinder profile.

This year's Rural Catch contestants. Photo / Stephen Bark
This year's Rural Catch contestants. Photo / Stephen Bark

People's Choice award winner Charlotte Leach is a research technician for DairyNZ who impressed the public, judges and sponsors – all of whom she thanked for making the experience such a great one.

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"The highlight for me was meeting everyone, it wouldn't have been the way it was without them. I just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support me and to all the awesome people we've met along the way" said Leach.

Adventure-loving Leach spent her first 17 years in an alpaca farm, but now her passion is in the dairy industry where she is driven to learn everything about cows.

About Fieldays Rural Catch

This year's Fieldays Rural Catch was made possible thanks Fieldays Rural Catch Partner Farmlands Co-operative and sponsors Suzuki, Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup who all contributed to the prize pool for the winners.

Nichols takes home the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy, a brand new King Quad worth $17,995 thanks to Suzuki, a $2000 Swanndri voucher, and STIHL and Skellerup vouchers.

Leach walks away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers.

All competitors receive a $500 STIHL voucher, so no one walks away empty-handed.