The brave take a dip at Petone Polar Plunge

Photos: Come on in, it's tropical

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 12:16 25/08/2012
Karen Rhind
Chris Skelton
Karen Rhind braves the cold in preparation for the annual Petone Polar Plunge as part of the Petone Festival on today.

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The seawater is a chilly 8 degrees Celsius - and Karen Rhind is one of many in costume who lined up on the Petone shore ready to plunge in for the Petone Polar Plunge today.

Hundreds of people braved the cold at 1pm today to take part in the annual event.

As manager of the Wesleyhaven retirement village in Naenae, Ms Rhind has been immersing herself in the frigid winter waters since her organisation got involved with the Polar Plunge 10 years ago.

"It's chilly - chilly, chilly, chilly. But my motto is you just go in and plunge under."

The annual August event, which is on as part of today's Petone Winter Carnival, is a special highlight for the not-for- profit village, Ms Rhind says.

A team of Wesleyhaven staff and volunteers takes the plunge every year as a fundraiser, and residents from the village prepare vegetable soup and sweets, sold on the beach after the swim.

In past years, the funds have bought a heat pump for the recreation hall and a television for the hospital residents' lounge.

And the Wesleyhaven team is always up for the costume competition. 'Some years we've gone in as older people with walking frames. We've gone in as a pack of cards, as ladybirds, as mafia.'

Hutt City Council events co- ordinator Thomas Buchanan says the costumes are one of the most memorable parts of the event. Last year's winner went as the North Island - complete with Maui's hook, and his friend on the beach to fish him up.

INFORMATION

The day's fun begins with the plunge, with the wider Petone Winter Carnival running all afternoon and fireworks at 7.30pm.

The Polar Plunge kicks off at 12.30pm with the costume prize-giving and warmup, followed by the race for the water at 1pm. Information: petonecarnival.co.nz or call 04 560 0306.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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