• Janice

A Travel Guide to a Farm Experience: Country Shows, New Zealand

Updated: Aug 11

I love country shows! Listed below are my 8 reasons why country shows are a must-do for tourists and locals. Click through for the 2022/2023 New Zealand Wide Show Dates. For this article I have featured:

  • The Kaikohi A, P & H Show, features my photography with my Samsung Note 9.

  • The Clevedon A & P Show is a great thing to do with the kids in Auckland. Click through to the Clevedon A & P Show's website.

A banner for the Clevedon Agricultural and Pastoral Show
The Clevedon Country Show

Photo credit https://www.facebook.com/clevedonshow

Back Ground

Country shows hark back to the early English settlers who introduced farming and horticulture to New Zealand. The early farmers established the Agricultural and Pastoral Society to promote science in farming practice. Today, the society hosts country shows known as Agricultural and Pastoral Shows (A & P Shows) or Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Shows (A, P & H Shows).

Agricultural and Pastoral Shows include exhibits and competitions centred around farming, horticulture and rural living. Showgoers can expect to see farm animals, horticultural produce, machinery and sporting events. What's more, A & P Shows cover a range of interests, with entertainment, trade stalls, industries and community organisations on display. Shoppers will be kept busy by a multitude of sellers with many bespoke items offered for sale.

How to find a show

Regional associations host many shows throughout New Zealand. So, the featured Kaikohe Show is hosted by the Northland Association of the Royal Agricultural Society.

Check the show's timetables and align your itinerary to the show date. Click through for Show dates on the Royal Agricultural Society's website.


My 8 Reasons to Include A & P Shows in Your Travel Plans

1. Carnival Atmosphere

The fairground rides and attractions will delight the kids and the kids at heart. You will find everything from bouncing castles to face painting. Musical entertainment and great picnicking spots are traditional features of a show.

2. Value for money

The Kaikohe Show charges an adult entry of $10 per head and a family pass for $25.

The Clevedon Show's online general admission charges: adult $15.76, youth and senior $10.61, family pass $31.20.

Northland New Zealand, tourist attraction, farm machine, traction engine
Traction Engine at the Kaikohi Show

3. Connect with History

Shows host displays from local history buffs who demonstrate equipment and document local traditions. These displays take us back to the era when the shows first began in New Zealand. Pictured is an old-time traction engine displayed at the Kaikohi A,P & H show. Displays are operational with a chance to experience the bells and whistles.

An animal experience at the Kaikohe A & P Show
A lamb saying hello at the Kaikohe Show

4. Animal Interactions

Local farmers bring their prized livestock to the show and judges decide the best animal within a class. Depending on the class, judges base their decisions on a variety of criteria including confirmation according to type, temperament, condition, grooming, presentation, agility and obedience.

Although animals are on display, giving the public an opportunity to view them up close, they are beyond the average natural attraction they are to their owners' livelihoods. I snapped this very friendly lamb at the Kaikohe Show. This little lamb is typical of the livestock at A&P shows. Alert, well-adjusted and friendly. For travellers interested in New Zealand farm life, try a Farm Stay.

Sporting events that include animals are also a feature. For example, Dog Trials involve a shepherd (the person) and their dog/s, moving sheep through a paddock and into a pen/s. Judges give the top prize to the fastest shepherd to pen the sheep while conforming to the rules.

Floral entrants and the Kaikohe A&P show
Exotic blooms at the Kaikohe Show

5. Botanical Products and Displays

Local gardeners and horticulturalists enter specimens into competitions. Pictured are the entries into the best blooms class at the Kaikohe show. Display halls are a delight for the senses with many popular exotic garden blooms laid out. The specimens on display are not limited to floral, included are vegetables, baked goods and preserves.

Also, in the trade section, showgoers have a chance to sample and purchase many botanically based products. I love the handmade and often organic soaps, salves and cosmetics.

6. Farm to Plate Food

There is a variety of food trucks and trade exhibits that sell street-style food to showgoers. Many of the food items for sale are grown and manufactured locally.

However, a drawcard for showgoers is to personally experience how food is produced. Below is an example from the Clevedon Show's Instagram page. These doe-eyed Jersey cows are lining up for their morning milking giving showgoers a chance to form a personal understanding of dairy production. Keep in mind that local cheeses from the same region were for sale at the trade stalls. Make sure to get a timetable so you don't miss out.

7. Local Industry

A&P show exhibit - bucket truck rides
Free rides from linemen in the bucket truck

Top Energy, a community-owned electricity company, hosts a state-of-the-art industry exhibit at the Kaikohi Show. This display includes information on Top Energy's electricity distribution and generation operations. 'Top' adds to the carnival atmosphere by uplifting showgoers in the hydraulic bucket on the truck used for working on the local electricity lines.

Ngawha Geothermal, Top's electricity power plant, generate green electricity from volcanically heated groundwater. I have an interest in green energy so really enjoyed the free bus ride to the geothermal fields and power plants. See one of the powerplants below.

8. Sporting Events

Equestrian, dog trails, log chopping, shearing and strong man contests are a few of the sporting events held at A&P shows. Pictured is a horse and rider competing in an agility contest where the rider takes her charge through a series of paces and over hurdles.

Hens on display
Hens on Display

All pricing is in NZD and relates to the time of writing.

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