The NZ Boat Show has kids fishing and designing and making their own boats.

Try your hand at kayaking and paddleboarding. Design a boat then see if it floats. Learn how to catch a fish, fillet and cook it. All in one place, under cover, with experts showing you how it's safely done.

The New Zealand Boat Show has grown from a boys' day out to look at flash new launches, to a family event with lots to amuse kids while their parents admire the vessels and accessories on display.

All the boat show's activities are connected with water and the show has the biggest footprint of any boat show on land in Australasia, covering more than 30,000sq m of floor displays.

The Club Marine Discover Boating Centre and the Youthtown Aqua Fun Zone are close together and aimed at younger family members and school groups who come through the Auckland show on the Thursday and Friday.


Two 10m by 5m pools are heated at 28C in the Aqua Fun Zone with one unheated pool in the Discover Boating pavilion for demonstrations. Kids are encouraged to bring their togs and towels and have a go in the heated pools.

Water pursuits such as paddleboarding, paddling a waka and kayaking are best suited for children aged 8 and older, while swimming can be for any age as the pool is heated and buoyancy aids are provided with instruction.

Adults can check out the latest powerboats, sailing dinghies, fishing gear, kayaks, skis, wakeboarders, towing toys and marine accessories with their families or while they leave their children aged 10 and older to enjoy the activities supervised by Youth Town volunteers.

If the children prefer to stay dry, they can try the surfboard balance test, sailing and windsurfing simulators, play the Great Drain Game, where they learn what happens to water and other objects after they are flushed down the drain at home, and meet a Treasure Islands sniffer dog which will find objects hidden in the audience just like they find pests on Hauraki Gulf islands. Kids can also have a go at packing an America's Cup spinnaker, enter a kids' fishing contest where fishery officers will check their catch is the right size and maybe award a chocolate fish, and the colouring competition.

Children can also design then build a model boat, testing it on the water to see how well it floats.

For keen fishers, the show's MCs, including Bruce Duncan and Adam Clancey, will demonstrate how to catch fish as well as how to fillet and cook the catch. Top seafood chef Derek the Chef (Derek Robertson) will also demonstrate cooking and offer advice.

While the emphasis is on fun and trying new activities, safety groups ensure showgoers learn to stay safe around water by taking basic precautions. For example, all children must don a lifejacket before tackling the fishing contest.

Other family-focused activities at this year's show include: Dinghy Central, with more than 20 fully-rigged sailing dinghies; Sea Scouts and representatives of dinghy sailing classes to encourage families to try sailing; the futuristic rowboat Danny Sunkel will use to attempt the first double crossing of the Tasman; diving demonstrations and kayakers showing eskimo roll techniques and other tricks; and a high-energy wakeboarding display featuring some of New Zealand's top wakeboarders.

Go float your boat
What: Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show.

Where: ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, Auckland.

When: May 17-20 (Thursday to Sunday),10am to 6pm daily with a late night on Friday until 9pm.

Admission: Adults: $20; children 16 & under are free with an accompanying adult.

More information:
The boat show is run by Auckland Water Ski Club and is more than 55 years old.

Prizes to be won by general admission ticket-holders include a $70,000 family powerboat, two $2000 kayaks each day, a $6000 five-day luxury cruise for two in the Bay of Islands and a $5000 tool set.