Battle of the beards: Annual New Zealand Beard and Moustache competition

Things got hairy at a central Auckland pub on Friday night, as the fourth annual New Zealand Beard and Moustache competition got underway.

Up for grabs were the top titles in different categories: Best beard, best moustache and freestyle.

There was also a fourth category for the ladies, who sport fake beards and fight for the title of 'whiskerina'.

"Some girls in the past [have] used real hair, some others use any other kind of craft you can imagine," one of the organiser Ygnacio Cervio told Newshub.

"It's a creative thing."

Judge Sam Wakelin is no stranger to facial hair, taking out the competition for the past three years running with his own award-winning beard.

"I had a bet with a friend six years ago over the summer to grow a beard, and I kept going," he explains.

His Gandalf-style beard may be half-a-metre long, but Mr Wakelin says it's pretty low maintenance.

"I use these argan oil beard washes and beard oils, and just kind of brush it out."

So what exactly is he looking for in a winner?

"Maintenance is a big thing, like if they're looking after the beard, the shape of it, if it suits their face shape and personality… their whole look comes into play as well."

Mr Wakelin says size doesn't matter.

"You can have a short one but it looks really good on you and your costume and your personality, it's all about that. It's not always the biggest one that's going to win."

Mr Cervio would know - he's the brainchild behind the national event, and came sixth in the most recent world competition.

But Friday night's event, attended by 50 competitors, was really just a warm-up, with New Zealand set to host the world event in 2021.

Check out the New Zealand Beard and Moustache Competition Facebook page for the full results of the competition.