Hotel availability 'severely diminished' as Prime Minister attends Fieldays to thank primary industries

The National Fieldays is expecting over 120,000 visitors.
The National Fieldays is expecting over 120,000 visitors. Photo credit: Newshub

Traffic is building on the outskirts of Hamilton as farmers, foodies, petrolheads and animal lovers flock to the National Fieldays, which is tipped to be the biggest agricultural event in the world since COVID-19.

The National Fieldays at Mystery Creek near Hamilton runs from June 16-19 with over 120,000 people expected through the gates.

Last year the event was cancelled for the first time in its 52-year history, and replaced with an online show that attracted an audience of 90,000 people from 75 countries.

Its CEO Peter Nation says "we need the primary sector to continue to thrive and grow and lead New Zealand into recovery".

He says the return of the "tangible experience that everyone knows and loves" will this year run alongside an online show that'll continue our "connectedness to the world".

While many businesses folded during the pandemic, the Callaghan Institute says demand for agritech products has not dropped and innovators have stepped up to answer the call. 

In the Fieldays Innovation Hub, visitors can expect to see a number of new technologies including the Numnuts device that "kindly" castrates lambs without the use of rings or burning; a University of Waikato robot that harvests asparagus and the Smart Sprayer that reduces spray drift by 87 percent in vineyards by detecting exactly where the crop's canopy is.

Fieldays runs from June 16-19.
Fieldays runs from June 16-19. Photo credit: Newshub

National Fieldays typically generates $500 million in sales revenue for businesses showcasing at the event. 

But accommodation in Waikato is at a premium though with hotels and motels still being used for managed isolation and emergency housing. 

Hamilton City Council and Tourism Holdings have set up a temporary campervan 'city' at Claudelands to house exhibitors travelling from around New Zealand.

Hamilton and Waikato Tourism CEO Jason Dawson says he and Mayor Paula Southgate wrote to the Government last month warning that "due to our severely diminished hotel room availability... we are unable to meet the requirements of event organisers. This is resulting in lost bookings... as well as the loss of event-related spending in our community".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and 26 MPs and Ministers will attend Fieldays this week.

"I want to acknowledge the efforts of our primary industries in keeping New Zealand's export revenues flowing in. Their hard work has helped us all hugely in hard times," Ardern said.

"This Fieldays we'll be highlighting the work we're doing with the food and fibre sector to drive New Zealand's economic recovery from COVID-19, including working with sector groups to attract Kiwis into jobs through our Opportunity Grows Here campaign and free training programmes, and doing what we can to grant border exceptions for workers to address labour needs," said Acting Minister for Agriculture Meka Whaitiri.