Hunterville is a small community on State Highway 1, in Rangitikei District, located half way between Taupo and Wellington with a population (2013 census) of 429.
The township was founded in 1884 by a merchant named George Hunter. It straddles the state highway as well as the main trunk railway in the foothills forming the gateway to the Central Plateau.
Hunterville is well known for its statue of the huntaway, a specialised herding dog that uses its voice to drive the sheep. The town festival and market held on the first Saturday after Labour Day has a "Shepherds Shemozzle" - a race with man and dog - with shepherds travelling from all over New Zealand to compete for the top prize. The Shemozzle, or Hunterville Huntaway Festival, was thought up at the local pub by some local folk - Tony Theed, Richard Horrocks and Thomas Powell. They suggested a run like the Cardronna Shepherds run in South Island but it was quickly pointed out that the town doesn’t have a mountain, but does have a steep hill. The event evolved from there and since then the country styled event has continued to grow into what it is today and it is the only event of its kind in the North Island - it is trademarked so no one else is permitted to use the name or style. It attracts between 4,000 – 5,000 visitors every year. A family day filled with lots of entertainment and fun, including children’s shows from Captain Jelly and Balloons Funtastic and a bouncy castle. You won’t want to miss it with every age group covered.
Kiwiburn, the New Zealand Burning Man regional burn, has been held here since 2014. This site is approximately 190kms from Wellington and 460kms from Auckland, with the closest large regional centre being Palmerston North.
You can buy ice at The Depot during its opening hours for around cost ($4 a bag). Nothing else is sold on the Paddock.
You need to bring ALL supplies, food, water and tools you will need for a week’s camping. If you forget something vital, your best bet is to make friends with your neighbours. If you really need something, you can leave and re-enter Kiwiburn for a $20 fee. See www.kiwiburn.com for more information.
Another regular event is the Vinegar Hill new years camping event - one of the biggest events in the LGBTQ calendar. The event has grown in popularity with people from all over New
Zealand attending with the highlight to crown the Vinegar Hill Queen at midnight on New Year's Eve.