It's all on down by the waterfront this anniversary weekend

Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival
Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival. Photo credit: Supplied/YouTube

Aucklanders are being urged to head down to the waterfront to watch a flotilla of waka arrive at the Viaduct.

Also, the waterfront has thrown open its gates for the next few days to give the public a glimpse of what goes on inside.

The Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival starts early Saturday morning with a powhiri at Karanga Plaza, followed by a waka parade.

The festival is on over the next three days.

"There's something to do and see for everyone," says Lisa Siteine from ATEED.

"It's going to be full of vibrant sounds, there's going to be lots of singing, kapa haka… everything is free."

It will also feature Māori food, music and entertainment, workshops activities and the chance to paddle a waka.

"We've got different culture displays, an extensive contemporary arts programme with more than 41 artists and fashion designers," says Ms Siteine, as well as Te Reo lessons and traditional healing tutorials.

Ports open up to the public

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says there's a lot to look forward to on their part of the waterfront too.

"We're automating our container terminal, so you can see the giant container-moving robots on display. We've got a crane simulator, we've got virtual reality training apps for our marine pilots. The Navy… are here again."

Mr Gibson says exploring the Navy ships anchored at the port a major highlight of the day for many children.

"It's awesome… they've got two ships to explore. I know they love to see kids and try and recruit them for the Navy."

It's the fifth year of the SeePort Festival, with 65,000 people expected over the weekend.

"I would challenge the dads to bring their dads and daughters down, go on the crane simulator and see if you can beat your son and daughter loading and unloading a ship," says Mr Gibson.

"The kids always win."