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20 years for Nelson Lakes Antique & Classic Boat Show

This year’s Antique and Classic Boat Show at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park celebrates 20 years of the beautiful and the bizarre among Kiwi heritage boats.

At 640m above sea level it’s New Zealand’s highest altitude boating event, with the fine craftsmanship and unusual entries continuing to attract the crowds.

Organiser Pete Rainey boat owners are willing to admit it is a bit mad to hunt down old boats abandoned in sheds and spend years sanding, polishing and tracing boat history and boat bits.

“Over the years we’ve seen different styles to the fore…sometimes it’s been jet boats, sometimes clinkers and now we’re seeing a real interest in the big classic speed boats from mid-19th century, some imported and some New Zealand built,” he said. “The boat show’s consistent factors are the enthusiasm from boat lovers for a day out sharing their projects, the attraction this has for the wider public, and the really glorious setting on the shore Lake Rotoiti with the backdrop of the St Arnaud range and Mt Robert.”

Pete Rainey says the format will stick to the ‘tried and tested’.

“Why change when people love what we do? The displays on the land in the morning are an opportunity to swap restoration stories and pore over the detail of the hardy clinkers, classic yachts, cedar kayaks, veteran jet-boats and replica steam-boats on display,” he said. “Then it’s time to take your picnic to the foreshore and watch the fun of the sail-past, the races for each category and the usually humorous ‘Le Mans’ beach start to the Seagull dinghy race.”

A glossy hard-backed book documenting the 20 year history of the Antique & Classic Boat Show will be launched for sale at the event for the special price of $20 – normal retail $25.

Throughout the 20-year history of the event the winner has taken home the Jens Hansen silver cup, with a smaller version to keep. Pete Rainey says the support from the Jens Hansen workshop over the years has been outstanding, and the original cup is not only a magnificent object, but now established as a trophy well worth winning.

Get ready for two days of glorious hydromatic relaxation at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park on the first weekend in March. As the venue is in the National Park and close to the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project dogs are banned. Drones are also banned.

Nelson Antique and Classic Boat Show, March 2 & 3; 10am – 4pm, displays on land in the morning and events on the lake in the afternoon, both days. more info at


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