The New Zealand Antique & Classic Boat Show just keeps growing, with a record 147 boats drawn to St Arnaud in the Nelson Lakes National Park for the 24th annual event, held March 2–3, 2024.

Three thousand enthusiasts attended over the weekend, drawn by the usual mix of the quirky (a pedal-powered catamaran) to the magnificent (a Riva speedboat once owned by Jackie Kennedy-Onassis).

The Jens Hansen Trophy for the best vessel overall went to the 1960’s pleasure craft Aqualark, owned by Laurie Brown of Christchurch.The glass-over-ply 16-footer is powered by a Ford Zodiac 2.5-litre car engine and seats five in its twin cockpits. The boat was immaculately restored between 2017 and 2024 by the owner with help from Darryl Moffey and Josh Bright.

“It’s a restoration done with ‘next level’ detail,” said judge Tim Porter from Boating NZ magazine. “The blue and white exterior is immaculate and even the engine bay is extremely tidy… with the screws on the inside of the hatches lined up exactly like those on the outside.”

Porter said the popularity of classic boating is growing worldwide.


“There’s an element of nostalgia – people want to relive their youth,” he said. “And people just love getting into a project where you don’t need any kind of consent and there’s no WOF to pass at the end!”

Other awards this year included a new category for that most essential of boating accessories – the trailer. The judges were especially impressed with the effort that had gone into the trailer for the inboard runabout Caspar owned by Philip Andrew of Lower Hutt.

Sail power was not forgotten with the Johnson Family Trophy for best sail-powered craft going to a 1940 X-class, Gallina, owned by Pattrick Smellie and Chris Todd of Wellington. In 1941 the yacht was the first South Canterbury entry in the Sanders Cup and was the first X-class to have a woman crew member – Miss M Riddler.

Special celebrations are planned for next year’s boat show March 1–2, 2025 as it will be the event’s 25th anniversary.

The Nelson Regional Development Agency is proud to support the Antique & Classic Boat Show, which benefits communities right across Te Tauihu, attracting visitors from out of the region and showcasing Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park. BNZ

Smiles all round. What’s not to enjoy?


Nelson’s Antique and Classic Boat Show has been named the ‘most unique boat show on the planet’, by the US-based web forum WoodyBoater.


Nautical photographer Steve Lapkin has attended the last two shows at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park and the verdict was delivered in a story accompanying his latest photos on the popular website.

“It’s official, the world has spoken – this is the most unique boat show on the planet, new, old, in a convention centre, small old marina, this show exhibits the uniqueness of what is possible in boat design. I love it,” wrote Matt Smith, who founded the WoodyBoat site in 2007.

The coverage included classic speed and steamboats as well as two of this year’s unusual entries – an upturned table and a bathtub capable of rising on its foil, both powered by Seagull outboard motors.

WoodyBoater runs a daily news feed on the classic boat community, a web forum for technical information, and a physical space in Reedville Virginia that has one of the oldest working marine railways in the USA.

The international accolade from WoodyBoater may see some new punters. With echoes of the American talk-show host who took over the Bird of the Year contest, Steve Anderson from Michigan commented on the WoodyBoater site: “Wouldn’t it be cool if they had 10,000 Americans show up next year because of this publicity? It’s too beautiful NOT to go, in every way.”

WoodyBoater story:



Jens Hansen Cup Best Vessel Overall: Aqualark, Laurie Brown, Christchurch
Walker Family best new craft: Whio, Giles Lesser, Richmond
Best restoration: Ferrari, Mike Henderson, Taupo
Port Nelson House Parts best rowed craft: Maggie, John McConway, Picton
CWF Hamilton Trophy best jet-propelled craft: Jet 53, John Connelly, Christchurch
Johnson Family Trophy best sail powered craft: Gallina, Pattrick Smellie & Chris Todd, Wellington.
Mathieson/Jeffcott Trophy best motor-powered craft: Bob, Mike & Julie Baker, Ashurst
Best outboard motor-boat: Shiloh Girl, Janet Cloake, Mossburn
Best American craft: Boat 101, Owen Henwood, Kaiapoi Christchurch
Best clinker craft: Boat 61, Aaron Hughes, Motueka
Innovation Award: Pedal-powered catamaran, Malcolm King, Christchurch
Best fibreglass craft: Rayson, Rick Wilkie, Christchurch
Best trailer: Caspar, Philip Andrew, Lower Hutt