Group of sheep 'ram raid' Liquorland store during Great New Zealand Muster in Te Kūiti

You can lead a sheep to water - but it might prefer a beer at the local liquor store instead.

A group of about 14 sheep taking part in the Great New Zealand Muster in Te Kūiti at the weekend made a break for it - ducking off course and into a Liquorland store at the end of a big day.

Video posted to social media shows the moment they "ram raid" the shop.

Over 700 sheep took part in the running event, which sees them flock down the town's main road.

Te Kūiti Liquorland employee Philippe Pioch told Newshub he was out the back when a work mate yelled out for him.

He admits it was a shock to see the sheep inside but said "everything was under control".

Sheep in the Liquorland staffroom.
Sheep in the Liquorland staffroom. Photo credit: Supplied/Philippe Pioch

The sheep barricaded in the store's staffroom for about 40 minutes but others from the event helped get them out safely.

Pioch said no sheep were harmed and there was no damage in the store because of the visitors.

Waitomo District Mayor John Robertson told Newshub the event was "a special day" which was run well until the "little incident" in the liquor store.

But he said he was taking the humour in it, including speaking to overseas media who'd reached out about the incident.

"I'm seeing the humour in it, it was a big day and they went for a drink," Robertson said.

"People underestimate the intelligence of sheep and they knew where to go for a drink."

The Great New Zealand Muster was back this year after being called off over health and safety concerns.

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton told Newshub she could see the humorous side to the sheep running off course.

But added: "In reality, animals don’t belong in a liquor store and shouldn't be running through the streets of Te Kūiti either.

"It does make me wonder if the management of the animals was adequate. If sheep were able to jump barriers, this highlights the risk to the safety of these animals and members of the public which is why the event had been shut down in previous years."

However, Robertson said it was the best muster - the sheep were relaxed, the weather was great, and crowds were enjoying the food and music.

"It was like a little festival," he said.

Robertson especially noted how the town hall, he called "a mini convention centre", was turned into a wool shed for the shearing competition.

"That alone was incredible."

Robertson wasn't sure how many people attended the event, but said he'd guess "several thousand".

Notably, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was also in town for the popular event.

The mayor said it was his job to move the PM through crowds but he "got mobbed" engaging with young people and farmers.

"Fantastic to be at the Great New Zealand Muster in Te Kuiti - a great rural town," Luxon posted on social media. 

"Our Government backs rural like we back the All Blacks. We're cutting red tape and have axed the ute tax which is helping rural folk big time."