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High Altitude Boat Show Defies Covid


With many events cancelled by Covid 19, the organisers of the NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show are expecting positive spinoffs next weekend (March 6 and 7) for the annual show at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

Event organiser Pete Rainey says registrations are up on previous years and accommodation in St Arnaud is booked out.

“We’ve pushed the show as another option for Kiwi ‘staycations’ - with two days of action on land and on the lake there is plenty to see, as well as the other attractions of St Arnaud and the Nelson Lakes National Park,” he said.

Then there’s the opportunity the lockdown offered for ‘blokes in sheds’.

“We know New Zealand’s lock down wasn’t all Zoom meetings and sourdough and we’re expecting a showing from craftsmen and women who spent lockdown working on classic boating projects,” Rainey said. “There’s always a surprise factor and we’ve had some simply stunning entries turn up on the day many times.”

Rainey said after 21 years the formula was a proven crowd pleaser, with the action on the lake complimented by the displays on land in the morning where visitors can chat to the owners of vessels.

“You might see a historic display featuring a sleek Great Lakes’ speedboat with a bootlegging past, or watch while a cup of tea is made in the ‘Windermere kettle’ of an Edwardian steam-launch fired on Vietnamese anthracite,” he said. “Owners reveal the stories of their restorations, such as hunting for kahikatea - New Zealand’s wooden equivalent to carbon fibre - to reline a sailing dinghy.”

The judges are always out for a story as well as good looking boat, but even after 22 years, Rainey said last year’s winner Jacqueline was a stand out on both fronts.

“This sleek Italian-made Riva powerboat was once owned by former First Lady Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and will be back at the 2021 event,” he said. “A new boat for us this year is a lovingly restored Cedar strip canoe that formed part of a Canadian display at the 1925 Dunedin exhibition. This mash-up of flashy and humble is a hallmark of the boat show.”

The New Zealand Antique and Classic Boat Show is on March 6 & 7 at Kerr Bay, St Arnaud, 10am – 4pm both days. A reminder dogs are not allowed in the National Park, and a warning not to wear blue as it attracts the bumblebees which are copious at this time of year.

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