Reigning Golden Shears shearing champion David Fagan is hoping to win the title for the 17th time.
The competition opened in Masterton on Wednesday, drawing competitors from around the world.
Mr Fagan, 48, says he aims to win but concedes it won't be easy as most of the top competitors are in their 30s or early 40s.
The elimination round begins on Friday and the top six will battle for the title on Saturday night.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Masterton schoolboy David Gordon, 13, won the novice final on Wednesday making him the youngest champion in Golden Shears history.
His father is open-class shearer and contest commentator Nuki Gordon, and his older sister Cushla won the same competiton two years ago at the age of 18.