Tall Ships in Auckland Harbour
Saturday 26 Oct 2013 5:19 p.m.
About 200,000 people are expected to crowd Auckland's waterfront this weekend for the first-ever Tall Ships Festival.
The flotilla of international vessels, here after the trans-Tasman race from Sydney, is proving quite a spectacle for young and old.
It's a sight Auckland may never see again – a fleet of old-time sailing vessels berthed along the harbour's edge.
Thousands of spectators lined the Auckland waterfront to hop aboard the traditional vessels.
The three-day event kicked off with a parade and Powhiri to welcome the 600 sailors from eight tall ships, which have travelled from as far as the Netherlands, Canada and the UK.
"We've never had an armada of vessels like this ever before, since the 17th century when they got off the ships and landed in the country," says Tall Ships Festival director John Lister.
The ships have just completed the Trans-Tasman Tall Ships race from Sydney to the Bay of Islands, in which the Spirit of New Zealand placed third.
The races have been running in Europe since the 1950s, but it's the first time they've made the journey down to New Zealand.
"It's just a splendid feeling to get a ship like that from A to B and over such an ocean, with so much history in it," says Gijs Sluik, Netherlands Tecla Ship captain. "It's just a once-in-a-lifetime thing for us."
The ships will be open to the public tomorrow before the fleet departs with a full naval salute from Orakei Wharf on Monday.