Not your usual chukka of polo

By Nicki Harper

UP CLOSE: The crowd was in the thick of it as players and horses scrambled along the sidelines. Helicopter rides were also on offer.PHOTOS/WARREN BUCKLAND HBT134093-22/24
UP CLOSE: The crowd was in the thick of it as players and horses scrambled along the sidelines. Helicopter rides were also on offer.PHOTOS/WARREN BUCKLAND HBT134093-22/24

Porangahau Beach was transformed into an international sports venue with the debut of the Porangahau Beach Polo event on Monday afternoon.

Low tide at 11am signalled the all-clear for the games to begin, in front of up to 300 spectators who lined the temporary field and experienced up close the hustle and bustle of three fast-paced games before the tide came in.

The Genghis Khan Polo Club team from Mongolia was up against the local Kuru Contracting team and Central District Women played South Island women.

The feature match was the Red Snap'r Wanstead team versus Ngatarawa-Central Districts, a face-off comprising some of New Zealand's top-tier players.

With four chukkas each game, the crowd was in the thick of the action as players and horses scrambled along the sidelines digging the ball out of the churned up sand and hitting it - sometimes across the field and through the goalposts, sometimes into the ocean and sometimes into the sponsors' marquee.

While traditional polo is an entertaining game to watch, beach polo ups the ante with the proximity to the arena.

Adding to the attractions were food and art stalls, helicopter rides, an Undie 500 run, which attracted a grand total of two brave contenders, and the beach itself.

Although the day was a bit windy, it was sunny and warm.

International guests included the Argentinean ambassador to New Zealand, Fernando Escalona, and family, along with representatives from Cable Beach Polo, Australia's only beach polo tournament held every May in Broome, Western Australia, where the inspiration for this event originated.

Organisers are planning to make this an annual fixture.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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