Kiwis short of ‘staycation’ ideas should check out the NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show. Held annually since 1999 at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park, the show delivers the quirky – as you’d expect from a boating event 640m above sea level.
Boaties tow their prized originals, restorations and rebuilds from right around the country, and each boat has a story to tell. Event organiser Pete Rainey says visitors relish the opportunity to chat with owners while the boats are displayed on the foreshore.
“You might see a historic Great Lakes speedboat with a bootlegging past or watch as a cup of tea is made in the ‘Windermere kettle’ of an Edwardian steam-launch fired on Vietnamese anthracite. Owners enjoy revealing the stories behind their restorations, such as hunting for kahikatea – New Zealand’s wooden equivalent to fibreglass – to reline a sailing dinghy.”
Judges are always out for a story as well as a good-looking boat, and the mash-up of flashy and humble is a hallmark of the boat show.
Rainey has holidayed here since he was a kid and urges people travelling south to make a staycation of it. “It’s worth booking in for a night or two in St Arnaud, an alpine village set among the glaciated ranges of the national park.
“As well as two days of Glorious Hydromatic Relaxation, visitors can check out the dawn chorus from the successful ‘mainland island’ nature restoration project and tackle the walking tracks of the park. The boat show features displays on land in the morning, a sail past, an afternoon of racing on the lake and an awards dinner on Saturday night.”