It's a blast as kite festival returns

Strong winds prove challenging for fliers

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 11:16 21/01/2013

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A brisk southerly which made a pony gallop and whales wallow across the sky delighted a large crowd at the 22nd annual Nelson Kite Festival at Neale Park over the weekend.

However, there is such a thing as too much wind for flying a kite, and Nelson threw almost as much as it could at yesterday's crowd, which meant not all kites got airborne, the event's co-organiser Gretchen Howard said.

She said the strong and gusty southerly was a challenge for many kite flyers, and it got to the point where it was simply too dangerous for some.

Nelmac trucks provided handy ground anchors for the bigger kites, but there were no incidents and no tangles, Mrs Howard said.

The galloping pony - which was actually meant to be a racehorse - was a new addition to the skyline this year, along with a couple of whales, including a large blue whale which looked entirely appropriate drifting across the sky.

A Dutch kite enthusiast with a passion for friesian cows returned this year with her 16 "cow kites".

Mrs Howard said the festival had become a focal point on the calendar of many kite flyers from around New Zealand and overseas. They came from Canterbury, Wellington, the Netherlands, Germany and England to delight a crowd of several thousand throughout the weekend.

She said it was purely a love of kites that made people want to fly them.

"It's fun seeing families who grew up with them at this festival.

"It's great being able to get the kids away from their iPods. Physiologically, looking up instead of looking down is healthier for you."

Mrs Howard said many of the kite flyers who returned each year planned their visit around a holiday in Nelson, but the festival was getting to the point where she and husband Ted, who have been the driving force behind the festival, were having to think about a future direction for it. It was run outside the Nelson City Council festival programme, and the cost to keep it going had come down to a fine line.

"We want to keep it running up to the 25th festival, but it relies on donations only, and it's time we had a rethink."

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