Showing Alpacas

New Zealand Alpaca Shows

For many people, alpaca shows are the first opportunity they had to see alpacas up close, to learn about their unique personalities, and about the industry in general.  A large proportion of New Zealand’s alpaca owners first saw alpacas at show and started on their alpaca journey from that point.

Even before you have alpacas, or as new  owners  before you are ready to show your own, it can be a great learning experience to go to an alpaca show.   By attending a show you can get a real feel for the alpaca industry and see what it’s like to be an alpaca breeder.

Alpaca shows in New Zealand are increasing in number and size each year.   Supported by the Alpaca Association of New Zealand, alpaca shows were at first incorporated into existing A&P Shows.  This supported the A&P industry locally and also gave alpaca owners the opportunity to gain showing experience without the high cost involved in running specialist stand-alone shows.  The number of alpaca shows held in conjunction with A&P Shows is increasing every year and now take place even in some of the smaller communities, often being a starting point for those new to the show experience.

Nowadays in New Zealand there are uniquely alpaca shows, such as the Alpaca Association NZ National Show which is held annually and attracts the country’s top alpacas, and the annual Colourbration shows (one in the North Island and one in the South Island).

Why Show?

The highly competitive show ring serves multiple purposes.  For owners of ribbon winning alpacas there is the valuable opportunity to get the judges opinion of your alpaca as at the end of each “class” the judge will comment on the quality of each alpaca receiving a place and indicate why they were given that placing. This is an opportunity to learn something about our alpacas, our breeding programme, or ourselves. Feedback from the judge is valuable so pay attention to the judge’s reasoning at the end of the class.

While this feedback by the judge is not extended to all alpacas in the class, the owners often do get the opportunity to meet other breeders and to compare the characteristics of the various alpaca there on the day.  This of course improves the breeders’ profiles with each other and may well lead to business opportunities or new friendships.  The shows are also social opportunity and are often followed by a dinner together where show participants can wind down after a long and busy, but enjoyable day.

Owning alpacas who have won ribbons gains the respect of customers, members of the public, and other breeders, and can have a positive impact on the value of your alpaca either through demand for your stock or interest in using your herdsires.

Types of shows: there a 4 types of show – for a detailed explanation see “Show Types”

If you are new to showing your alpacas, we have a few tips

Animal Preparation

Under usual show conditions, alpacas are shown in “paddock condition” – meaning they should be shown as they are on the farm. If your alpaca is “hairy” around the chest or top of head, it is common practice to carefully trim these off – you won’t fool the judge, but your alpaca will look so much better to spectators! The majority of the points are given to the quality of the fleece and  a high proportion for the animal’s conformation. Try to keep he fleece clear of vegetation – sometimes and impossible task, and the judge will look past this to a large degree. Pedigree (or genotype) is not taken into account by the judge, this is unknown to him on the day, and alpacas are judged based on their phenotype (appearance of fleece and conformation) on that particular day.

Halter train your alpacas, it will be easier on you and the alpacas.  Include teaching your alpaca to stand still next to you or they may have a hard time standing still in the show ring. Get them accustomed to walking in unfamiliar places and to learn to trust you. Make sure he is comfortable with having his fleece and teeth checked.  Most judges nowadays  expect the owner to pull back the alpacas lips to display the teeth to demonstrate correct bite.  Practice doing this while holding your alpaca – it will make this go better on the day. Practice loading them into the trailer ahead of time. It’s never fun when you have to fight to get your alpaca loaded and you have a busy schedule ahead of you.

Ensure TB testing is done early enough to get the results back in time for show registration. Allow 10 days to a fortnight.

Show Gear

  • Hay bag(s)
  • Water buckets
  • Feed (hay, alpaca pellets)
  • Emergency first aid
  • Halters and Leads for each alpaca
  • Show clothes (comfortable, close-toed shoes, black trousers and white shirt/top).
  • Pooper Scooper

At the Show
Suri and huacaya alpacas are shown in separate classes, competing against each other in age, gender and colour classes. After assessment by the Judge the winner of each class competes in the Championship round for that age group, and then the Judge selects from that group the Supreme Champion.

Keep focused – you don’t want to miss a class you are scheduled for
Network – you never know who might be your next customer or best friend

In the Showring

While in the ring, follow these simple guide lines, you will see what an improvement it makes!

  1. Smile
  2. Make eye contact with the judge
  3. Relax.
  4. Pay attention to the ring steward who will be directing you where to go.
  5. Don’t stand between the judge and your alpaca
  6. Don’t talk with your neighbor while in the show ring

In these days of stiff competition, any color ribbon is something to be proud of. Keep trying. Today’s 6th place winner could take the red (1st) ribbon at the next show. Take the judge’s comments on board – consider them as you make breeding decisions for next year.
Above all – have fun!


The awards for success in New Zealand showing are different from those generally accepted in other countries.  Here in NZ, first place is awarded a RED ribbon and a BLUE ribbon signifies a 2nd placing.  Third placing is awarded a yellow ribbon and fourth is usually, but not always, a green ribbon.

Ribbon colours for other placings, and championships, are at the discretion of the show co-ordinator and the colours do not have any significance – it is the wording on the ribbons that indicates the achievement.

“Broad” ribbons – usually at least 10cm wide – denote higher placings such Champion or Reserve Champion, while a Supreme Champion is usually 3 different colours ribbons sewn together to create an extra wide, extra colourful ribbon. Again colours for broad ribbons are at the discretion of the organiser.

International buyers should be aware of this uniquely NZ classification when searching New Zealand for prize winning alpacas

Award Ribbons

1st place winner – red ribbon

2nd place winner – blue ribbon

1st, 2nd and 3rd Place

4th place winner – ribbon usually green







Multiple winner – Broad ribbon (Reserve hampion), 3x1st placings (red ), 1x2nd placing (blue )