Rainbow's End pirate ship takes final swing

The iconic pirate ship ride at Rainbow's End swung its last swing on Saturday before going into retirement.

Hundreds of buccaneers turned out to the Auckland theme park on Saturday to walk the plank for one last time.

The Esmerelda was crammed from port to starboard for its final voyage.

She's spent 34 years in service, but the theme park says it's time to make way for a new ride.

"It is a ride that'd going to be targeted at teenagers and adults and it is going to be something that involves technology," says Rainbow's End's Katharine Murray.

But on Saturday it was all about the pirate ship, and she wasn't going away quietly.

Hundreds of people both young and old came to the Rainbow's End for a final swing.

As if that wasn't authentic enough, the heavens opened up just in time to make it really feel like you were out on the high seas.

The conditions were wet and stormy, but not enough to keep diehard fans away.

"It brought back so many childhood memories for me," said one fan.

Garry Rama was there the day the ride opened, and he came back again on Saturday for one last go.

"I came for my granddaughter's birthday today and to ride it for the last time," he said. "It was awesome."

Even after 34 years, just one ride was enough to satisfy his sea legs.

"Still makes me feel as crook as ever," he said. "I'm old now!"

"A lot of people are definitely going to miss the ride, but I think our cleaning team probably not so much as it is one of the rides a lot of people do get really unwell on," Ms Murray said.

The pirate ship may be sailing away from south Auckland, but it's not the last time people will be able to see it.

"We've had groups come to us and say they'd like it as an attraction," Ms Murray said.

As for where it'll go, that's still in discussion, but Rainbow's End says it could be close to a school near you.