All hands on deck for pumpkin paddling
With a click of the buckle on his lifejacket and the peak of his cap protecting his face from the sun, Tim Harris was ready to launch his pumpkins on Turtle Lake for their maiden voyage.
The small body of water at Hamilton Gardens was the scene of a New Zealand first as Harris and his friend Sam Elton-Walters paddled their homegrown pumpkin boats across the lake.
They returned from a successful voyage to the applause of more than 100 spectators who gathered by the lakeside.
Harris said the race had gone better than he had expected.
"It's a little bit mushy but it's not too bad," Harris said.
Excitement grew as Harris and Elton-Walters stood stomach-deep in the lake as they carved a great hole and scooped the flesh out of two atlantic giant pumpkins that weighed up to 550 kilograms.
They brought the pumpkins from Harris' Morrinsville farm, where he had grown them since October. They were in perfect condition for a day on the water.
"It was a lot more stable than I thought it would be," Harris said. "It took a little bit of getting used to but, yeah, it wasn't too bad."
He was keen to do it again next year but might include rod holders and a bait box for his next voyage.
"Yeah, why not. Next year I might have a motor on the boat."
That motor might come in handy if he is going to have another wager on who had the better pumpkin.
In a mad dash to the finish Elton-Walters took line honours.
Elton-Walters had position on Harris throughout the short race, but said the credit for his win had to go to his vessel.
"To have a really stable pumpkin you can go really hard and not worry about it," he said. "I think it was just pure pumpkin."
Elton-Walters' pumpkin was clearly the more stable of the two craft. While Harris' rocked from side to side, Elton-Walters' pumpkin sat low and steady in the water.
However, there was an element of workmanship that might have left Elton-Walters' race winner more streamlined.
"You have to make sure you cut the right side and make sure it's big enough and make sure you are sitting in the right spot."
He took bragging rights for being the inaugural pumpkin dash champion but the day still belonged to Harris.
"I think I have to buy him a beer," Elton-Walters said.
Elton-Walters is an organiser of the Great Pumpkin Carnival, to be held at the gardens this weekend and said the race was a great way to kick the event off.
"We were really surprised how everybody jumped on it," Elton-Walters said.
"People from everywhere are here today and a bunch of people went to Tim's house when we were loading them up."
Carnival organiser Jenny Rowden grew a miniature variety barely 5 centimetres in diameter and said the Sunday event would be about pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
"The spectacular part of it is that they grow so big," Rowden said.
"I mean, you don't get a 500kg carrot do you."
For more information on the festival go to thegreatpumpkincarnival.co.nz.