Tall ships coming
It is a sight Aucklanders may never see again - eight elegant tall ships sailing up the Waitemata Harbour to be guided by waka into their berths at Queens, Hobson and Princes wharves.
The first Tall Ships Festival will see hundreds of spectators lining the city's shores during Labour weekend to catch a glimpse of majestic vessels from around the world.
The fleet with its 600 sailors will cross the Tasman for the three-day event hosted by the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum.
It's a spectacle Auckland nearly lost to the capital when funding became an issue, festival director John Lister says.
But Auckland Council, Waterfront Auckland and the Ports of Auckland have worked together to ensure the ships dock here.
"It was a case of ‘we're going to make it happen - Wellington's not going to have it'," Mr Lister says.
"This is your chance of a lifetime. Come and visit these ships because you won't get a chance again.
"There's a romance about them."
The 74-year-old is the former chief executive of the Spirit of Adventure Trust which runs the tall ship the Spirit of New Zealand - a youngster compared with Dutch vessel Europa which was built in 1911.
The fleet will include the Lord Nelson from Britain which is the first tall ship in the world designed and built to be sailed by people of all physical abilities on equal terms - from able-bodied to wheelchair-users.
"For me the highlight will be seeing those wonderful eight ships enter the harbour led by the HMS Wellington and two wakas either side," Mr Lister says.
"And the next thing will be seeing the crowds."
Each ship received $30,000 to be a part of the festival in Sydney but they will get nothing for coming here, Mr Lister says.
"That just shows how much they really want to come to New Zealand."
Mr Lister expects a turnout upwards of 200,000 for the festival.
The ships sail into the harbour at 2pm on October 25.
Boaties can join the flotilla while landlubbers can watch from the shore. There will be free tours of the ships on October 26 and 27 from 11am and 4pm.
Tall Ships Festival - Labour Weekend
October 25, 2pm to 3pm: Eight ships led by Spirit of New Zealand will sail into Auckland Harbour. Join the flotilla on the water or watch from viewpoints around Waitemata Harbour as the ships sail around North Head at 2pm and are guided into their berths at Hobson, Queens and Princes wharves by waka at 3pm.
October 26, 10am to 11am: Crew parade - Crews assemble and march along the Waterfront from Wynyard Quarter to The Cloud led by the Royal New Zealand Navy Band. Official welcome and Powhiri to be held at The Cloud.
11am to 4pm: Vessels will be open to the public to board and view.
7pm: A VIP Captains' Dinner will be hosted by the mayor at Voyager NZ Maritime Museum in the Maritime Room.
October 27, 10am to 4pm: All vessels will be open to the public to board and view. A trail will allow public to visit all the ships along Queens, Hobson and Princes Wharves.
October 28 Noon to 1pm: Ships will depart the wharves with a full naval salute happening at Orakei Wharf.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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