Chop it like it’s hot

A Queenstown competitive woodchopper’s got his eye on the prize going into The New Zealand Agricultural Show, in Christchurch, this month.

Nick Egerton, 37, started woodchopping about 20 years ago in his hometown of Tuatapere, but after having a few years off recently, he’s getting back into the swing of things.

Having already travelled to Australia and to competitions in the North Island this year, Egerton had another event in Manapouri this weekend before he represents the South Island at the Christchurch event, part of New Zealand Cup and Show week.

There, the team will chop against Australia’s New South Wales — part of a transtasman series — while Egerton’s also got his eye on a couple of the championship titles.

To prepare, the builder says he’s been hitting the gym and chopping wood for training when he can, including at a Southland Otago Axemen’s Centre demo at Lake Hayes Estate’s The Hayes last Saturday.

While popular in Southland and, particularly, Australia, Egerton says woodchopping’s a lesser-known sport around Queenstown.

‘‘I’d like a few more people to do it in Queenstown, it’d be ideal. I’d really like to have a big competition in central Queenstown … have a proper racing event, which would be awesome for people to watch.’’

There’s no age limit on the sport, as long as the body’s able, and the mind’s willing.

‘‘There are some old battlers doing it still,’’ he says.

‘‘They have a veterans team and they go all over the place, which looks pretty fun.’’

Egerton notes, though, it’s an expensive sport, particularly when you factor in the cost of travel, accommodation, racing saws and ‘‘proper axes’’, generally made in Southland, so he’s hoping to attract a sponsor or two to help out.

‘‘They’ll last a while, but if they hit any knots or anything, they’re done and you have to get them resharpened — it can take six months once you send it away, and they’re probably about $4000.’’

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