It’s not just men, merinos and mutts who will muster in central Queenstown during the New Zealand Rural Games.
Bendigo Station shepherd Rosie Hose, 23, will ensure the men – and the sheep – do not get it all their own way.
A merino run dubbed the Running of the Wools will bring the downtown area of the resort to a standstill on February 6, as country comes to town.
Hose says people can expect some action from the sheep and dogs. And she warns the merinos have a mind of their own.
“They can be quite flighty. Normally they won’t run but with a good team of dogs behind them they’ll run.”
Shepherding is generally a man’s world, she says.
“It can be quite hard but you have a lot of fun. And the boys do respect it, especially when we can do the job just as well as them.”
Rural Games founder Steve Hollander says he’s expecting a much bigger crowd than last year, thanks to free entry.
A “brilliant” addition this year is the NZ Women’s DIY Challenge, he says.
Organisers realised most big national and transtasman championships did not include any women’s events – something they set out to change.
There will also be a “stack” of Have a Go events the public could try, such as gumboot throwing, cherry stone spitting and egg throwing and catching.
Putting on the games cost about $900,000, with more than half coming from commercial sponsorship.
The event will bring 150 rural competitors from around the country and Australia. Mr Hollander says airfares this year are “horrific” – especially as the Rural Games clashes with Chinese New Year.
“Being a charitable trust we just have to find that money.”
World-class athletes will line up for events such as speed shearing, wood chopping and coal shovelling.
Well, there are hints of appearances from the New Zealand baseball team, the Black Diamonds, or even some Otago cricketers who will be playing at the nearby Events Centre.
Hollander: “If we don’t break the world egg throwing and catching record, I’ll go he.”
Well, they’ll give it a crack.
Otago Daily Times