Mystery Creek Festival of Polo is galloping into town this weekend for those looking for something different to enjoy.
The best polo players in New Zealand, thundering hooves, gripping polo action, and family-friendly fun promise to make an exciting two days for the whole community.
The excitement kicks off tomorrow (Friday) with a Trans-Tasman twilight evening featuring thrilling matches between both Australian and New Zealand men’s and women’s teams.
The New Zealand team has previously dominated the competition, and the long-lived rivalry between the two nations will make for an exciting and competitive contest as New Zealand looks to secure the title this time.
The intensity continues with Finals Day on Sunday bringing together the eight top teams competing in four finals and ultimately, the Mystery Creek Festival of Polo 2024 Champion Team for each grade.
“Polo is a really inclusive sport, so even if you know nothing about polo, you can come along and have a fun day out”, says local organiser Ammie Hardie.
Aside from watching polo, you can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink, hang out in the family-friendly picnic lawn and entertainment area.
“The idea is for people to pack a picnic or choose from a selection of family-friendly food trucks and enjoy the festival atmosphere,” says Ammie.
Both Friday and Sunday’s events promise free, family-friendly activities, including bouncy castles, face painting, and giant lawn games.
Spectators also have the unique opportunity to step onto the field during the halftime break and help stomp the divots. “It’s like being a part of the game itself, offering a chance to mingle with fellow polo enthusiasts, enjoy the fresh air, and stretch your legs,” says Ammie.
The festival is held at Mystery Creek Polo Club, home to New Zealand Polo legends John-Paul and Nina Clarkin. The preliminary tournament is currently underway this week, which will determine the competition schedule for finals day on Sunday.
“The festival is hosting two international teams with players from all over the country making up 27 teams and over 600 horses,” says Mystery Creek polo manager Richard Seavill.
The horses are switched by players every three to four minutes, ensuring the dynamic pace of polo is maintained. Each player, on average, manages one to three horses per game, this allows for tired mounts to be replaced by fresh ones.
“This tournament kicks off three weeks of competitions in the Northern Polo Association (NPA) Region,” says Richard.
The games will be played on a field that measures 270 by 150 metres between two teams of four players ranked by their handicaps, with the aim of scoring the most goals.
For an unforgettable experience, secure your tickets now at festivalofpolo.co.nz