Rare relics of surfing's yesteryear - in place of luscious servings of snapper, hapuka, and gurnard - were the order of the day as the third annual 'The Cove Fish Fry' got under way on the Waipu Cove beachfront yesterday.

Although the name suggests otherwise, no frying of fish took place. However, the appetites of hundreds of surf enthusiasts were appeased, with some travelling from as far afield as Gisborne and the South Island for the alternative surf-based event.

"I've been trying to get here for three years," James Newby, a first-timer at the Cove Fish Fry, said. "Up until last year I was working offshore in Australia, so until now it's never really worked out."

With a mass of 20-odd rare collectors' boards, some worth their weight in gold, stacked neatly into his Toyota Hilux, Newby said it was a pleasure to finally be able to travel to the Cove Fish Fry - a six-to-eight hour pilgrimage from Gisborne which, he said, was well worth making despite the 1200km round trip.

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"I've met some really interesting people through this. Just seeing all these different designs - there's lots of different types," he said.

Chuffed with the turnout, Cove Fish Fry organiser Michael Cunningham said 2016's edition was one big 'shaka' of surf-infused culture, and a compliment to the event's growth since its inaugural running in 2014.

"It's one of those organic events where it kind of grows through the day, and then people slowly either get too hot or too tired and go home," he said.

"It's around about the same amount of boards as last year, [and] probably the same amount of people. We're really lucky with the weather, [and] there's heaps of diverse surfboards from all around the country. Having those unusual boards that have been stuck under peoples houses for years, and showing them and the history, is what it's all about."