More than 100 classic and antique boats will grace Lake Rotoiti this weekend, attracting enthusiasts from around the country.
The 14th annual NZ Antique and Classic Boatshow is once more expected to draw the crowds to the lake shore, keen to see history revived in the form of clinkers and cedar kayaks, jet boats, steam boats and the power boats which once roared across the American Great Lakes.
Show founder and organiser Pete Rainey said the show was becoming increasingly nationally significant. He was keen to forge a reputation for the area as a hub of classic boats as much as vintage and warbird aircraft were associated with Omaka in nearby Marlborough.
The aim to create the hub was being enhanced through the building of the first stage of the new classic boating complex in St Arnaud village, which will include a boat-storage facility.
He said owning a classic boat was a labour of love, and owners relished the opportunity to not only show off their own boat, but to share stories with others of the complex restorations.
Mr Rainey said many of the more than 100 entries were from Canterbury with several from the North Island. He was heartened by the growing trend in owners of high-end power craft wanting to take part in the show, especially those who had brought in the craft from overseas and who had done major restorations on them.
The show provided an opportunity for the public to see the restoration projects, chat to the owners and to "have a laugh as boaties try to start their motors for the Seagull dinghy race with its Le Mans start", Mr Rainey said.
"I really want to encourage people to come up and have a look and to just wander up and ask boat owners for a spin on the lake - after the organised activities are over most are really happy to show off what their craft can do."
Mr Rainey's only concern was the level of the lake right now, which was the lowest in years, and likely to present difficulties for some during launching.
The programme is for displays on land in the morning, with activities and races on the lake from 1pm both days.
Judging will take place on Saturday, ahead of an evening awards ceremony at the Alpine Lodge. At stake is the Jens Hansen Trophy overall award, presented to the boat with the complete package of looks, history, construction and a story to tell.
Other awards include prizes for best new restoration, best steamboat, best jet-propelled craft and best themed display. Races will be held for yachts, row boats, seagull motored dinghies, poppers, canoes, rowers and swimmers.
All boats will be checked for noxious aquatic weeds, and oil leaks before entering the water; and boaties are reminded to be aware of minimising the spread of didymo.
Dogs are not permitted on the site.
Mr Rainey's last word of advice: "Steer away from wearing blue, the bumble bees will be out and it's their favourite colour."
The NZ Antique and Classic Boatshow, Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park, Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3.
- The Nelson Mail
Does Nelson deserve to be classed as a city?Related story: (See story)