New Zealand’s largest outdoor and hunting trade expo, the Sika Show, is celebrating its remarkable 30-year milestone this year. The event has grown from its humble origins to become a diverse and exciting gathering, attracting a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.
Since 1993, the show has been held annually in the picturesque town of Tāupo, and last year, under new ownership, to accommodate the growing number of visitors, the show moved to Mystery Creek Event Centre in Hamilton.
What started off as just a small, organised gathering of passionate Sika hunters, who held a local competition for the best Sika heads taken that year, has grown exponentially, with more than 165 exhibitors and just under 10,000 attendees last year. This year, the show is shaping up to be bigger and better, with organisers hoping to see a two-fold increase in the number of visitors.
A wholesome experience
At the heart of the Sika Show lies an all-encompassing experience that captivates outdoor enthusiasts. Attendees can expect a cornucopia of experiences and exhibits: impressive taxidermy displays, top-notch outdoor apparel, a vast array of hunting, camping, and outdoor essential gear for the wilderness, and 4×4 and offroad products.
For those with a culinary flair, there are butchery and game food cooking demos, spice rubs, sauces, cookers, smokers, and biltong makers. Art enthusiasts can indulge in hunting and backcountry-style artwork, while thrill-seekers can explore adventure tourism operators and guided hunt/dive trip outfitters. The show also boasts an extensive line-up of exhibitors that offer a diverse range of products, including hunt and backcountry-styled jewellery, boutique-style liquor vendors, and, of course, a food truck collective.
But it’s more than just a trade show. The show serves as a focal point for various conservation and game animal foundations and organisations, promoting wildlife preservation and responsible hunting practices.
Central to the Sika Show’s appeal is its popular annual hunting competition, showcasing every species of game animal in New Zealand. This year again sees the Duke of Bedford Tahr Trophy Award, which was introduced in 2022 by the NZ Tahr Foundation as a new way of scoring Tahr heads that rewards age and mass. All bulls must be eight years old or older to qualify for entry, and it encourages hunters to leave Bull Tahr to reach maturity and not needlessly harvest young bulls that are far from their trophy potential.
For the young ones, there are colouring competitions, native bird and predator hunts, and face painting.
This year’s Sika Show commemorates three decades of exceptional outdoor camaraderie. To mark the occasion, more than $50,000 worth of prizes await participants in the hunting competition, with some individual prizes valued at around $4500.
The show was first launched at the Spa Hotel in Tāupo by a group of Sika hunters who gathered for a local competition to showcase their finest Sika heads. As the show’s popularity grew, it necessitated a move to the Great Lakes Centre in Tāupo in 2000, but with fast-growing interest, the show’s next move was inevitable – to Mystery Creek Events Centre. Then the pandemic happened, and like the rest of the world, everything came to an abrupt halt. After juggling multiple lockdowns and restrictions and two postponements between 2021 and early 2022, the show finally made its Mystery Creek debut in October, under new management, last year.
The Sika Show’s legacy extends beyond a mere hunting and outdoor trade show; it symbolises the essence of everything hunting, conservation, and outdoors that New Zealand has to offer.
The show’s allure lies in its multifaceted appeal. It stands as a platform for the community to come together to celebrate and support New Zealand’s game animals while also fundraising for national game organisations and hunter-based conservation groups. It also aims at providing hunter education and a positive and buoyant marketplace for all of the exhibitor brands and the public audience.
Finally (and importantly), the Sika Show supports the Central North Island Sika Foundation that spearheads impactful initiatives, such as the adaptive deer management plan for the Kaimanawa forest park, hunter-donated venison food bank project and the Whio Blue Duck recovery trapping project.
The foundation actively helps to manage the central North Island Sika and their habitat, striking a balance between the interests of hunters and the preservation of the mountain beech forests and also protecting the other native species that inhabit it. More than 6000 hours of volunteer dedication fuel various conservation endeavours, from management hunting to maintaining hut and track throughout the Kaimanawa Forest Park and trap servicing in the Oamaru, Kaipo, Cascade, and Hinemaiaia River catchments with 45km of trap line currently in place to protect whio (blue duck) and their breeding habitat.
The foundation’s efforts extend beyond the wilderness. More than 4500kg of organic hunter-donated venison meat has been supplied to food banks in Turangi, Tāupo, Te Kuiti, and Te Awamutu to date. The initiative started in 2020 when the Turangi Foodbank received venison mince following the culling of
wapiti/red deer in Fiordland and, today, has resulted in an ongoing mission to provide free-range venison mince to families in Turangi and Tāupo that are struggling to make ends meet.
Mark your calendar
From a fun day out to a celebration of conservation and ethical hunting practices and – of course – bringing the community together, the organisers say that the show has embraced a wide range of layers, emphasising the importance of quality family time, fitness, harvesting wild free-range protein, the art of living simply, detaching from technology and high-stress environments, and exploring this beautiful country.
The Sika Show takes place on 28 and 29 October 2023 at Mystery Creek Events Centre. A complete exhibitor list, head competition entry form and rules, and ticket information can be found at sikashow.co.nz.