Kiwis running short of ‘staycation’ ideas should check out Nelson-Marlborough’s NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show. Held annually since 1999 at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park, the show delivers the quirky – just as you’d expect from a boating event 640m above sea level.
Boaties tow their prized originals, restorations and rebuilds from right around New Zealand, each boat with its own story to tell. Chat to the owners of vessels such as the sleek Great Lakes speedboat with a bootlegging past, the Edwardian steam-launch fired on Vietnamese anthracite, the sleek kayak named for the boat-builder’s wife who ‘ran a good race’ or the restored sailing dinghy crafted from kahikatea – New Zealand’s wooden equivalent to fibreglass.
It’s worth staying 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 you 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.