Watch: Tractor driving bachelor named Fieldays Rural Catch 2019

An Otorohanga tractor driver has taken out the 2019 Fieldays Rural Catch top honours, while a Hamilton dairy technician was named as the People's Choice.

Eight rural singles showed off their farm skills at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek, hoping to catch the eye of employers - and a potential love interest.

This year's competition had them brushing up their confidence with some media interviews and sponsor engagements and showing off their skills in the areas of fencing, innovations, chainsaws, health and wellbeing, finance and ATV skills.

Lewis Nichols, who is a heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields based in Otorohanga was announced as the winner on Friday.

Newly crowned Fieldays Rural Catch 2019 Lewis Nichols.
Newly crowned Fieldays Rural Catch 2019 Lewis Nichols. Photo credit: Supplied

He said he came into the competition looking for someone who could listen to a few tractor yarns and had come away with the experience of a lifetime.

The highlight for Nichols was meeting all the other contestants saying they made the week such a great experience.

"For me it was about getting out there and having some fun," he said.

"This was a way to put myself out there for future employers, a way to grow and meet new people, a week off work and something else other than tractors," said Nichols.

Humble about his win, he said he went into it with a positive attitude and wanted to do his best. 

"It wasn't really about winning for me, I'm taking away more than just the prizes. The prizes are amazing, but the experiences are lifelong. Every one of us have got on, it's like a family, none of us want it to end."

When he's not busy with the tractors, Nichols can be found twisting the throttle on his dirt bike, heading up north to the family farm or enjoying a spot of fishing on the Kaipara harbour.

He is also a strong advocate for mental health in the rural sector. 

"Knowing what it feels like to go through the tough times many people face, I know just how important it is that there is support and campaigns to get people to speak up."

When asked why he entered Rural Catch he said he puts all his energy and effort into work and has nothing left to be able to craft a killer tinder profile, hence the reason he entered Rural Catch.

Rural Catch winner, Lewis Nichols and People's Choice winner Charlotte Leach
Rural Catch winner, Lewis Nichols and People's Choice winner Charlotte Leach Photo credit: Supplied

People's choice award winner Charlotte Leach is a research technician for DairyNZ who impressed the public, judges and sponsors - all of whom she thanked for making the experience such a great one.

"The highlight for me was meeting everyone, it wouldn't have been the way it was without them. I just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support me and to all the awesome people we've met along the way," said Leach.

Originally from an alpaca farm, she spent her first 17 years living and breathing all things fibre and alpaca spit with her passion now sitting in the dairy industry where she's driven to learn and absorb everything about cows.

Nichols takes home the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy, a brand new Suzuki King Quad worth $17,995, a $2000 Swanndri voucher, and STIHL and Skellerup vouchers. Leach walks away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers and all competitors received a $500 STIHL voucher.

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