The 50th year of the Te Anau Rodeo wrangled up to 1800 visitors before the New Year.
Te Anau Rodeo Club secretary Peter Dolamore said he thought this year's rodeo, held the day before New Year's Eve, was the fullest he had ever seen. Crowd counts were estimated to be somewhere between 1500 and 1800 people coming to see the staple Fiordland event.
"One of our members went to watch the bull ride at the end and he said he struggled to actually find a place to stand on the embankments."
Mr Dolamore said some factors that might have contributed to the strong turnout was the spread of the event on social media, the good weather, the return of 2nd Division bull riding and the anecdotally growing popularity of the sport across the country. Rodeos in other places such as Wanaka and Taupo also counted on strong crowds this season, he said.
In addition to the weather, Mr Dolamore said there were no major injuries, only the odd bruise one would expect to find.
"Everything went off without a hitch."
This year the club put up 50th anniversary commemorative buckles in each of the Open events. Te Anau Rodeo Club members Kerry Macdonald won the Open Barrel Race, and club member Tim Evans and partner Murray Hellewell won the Team Roping buckle. Kerry's brother Greg Lamb from Waikaka won the Steer Wrestling event.
Havelock North cowboy Ross Dowling won the Hamish Macdonald Memorial Open Bareback event for the third time and the Open Saddle Bronc event as well. Fairlie cowboy Luke Longley won the Ron Galland Memorial 2nd Division bull ride.
Three members of the rodeo club — Mr Dolamore, club president Sandy Tee and member Archie Armitage — were also taken by surprise when they were made life members.
Mr Dolamore said he didn't have an accurate count of how much was raised this year as yet, but an estimated $2700 donation would go to the Te Anau Lions Club, and another donation would be made to the Te Anau Fire Brigade. The event helps community groups raise money, and Mr Dolamore said the club wanted to acknowledge the sponsors and the public for the support they gave the rodeo club, and the community groups, such as Te Anau Lions Club, Rotary Club of Fiordland, the Te Anau Fire Brigade, Mararoa PTA, Te Anau Pony Club, and LandSAR, who ran a fundraising barbecue for the first time.