The fifth annual Auckland Pride Parade has roared into life on Ponsonby Road - with thousands of people lining the street to take in the festivities.

More than 50 groups are making their way down Ponsonby Rd for the celebration which will finish at Western Park.

The parade is seen as the high point of the Auckland Pride Festival and closes out the two-week-long event, followed by an after party at the Galatos St party and Studio super-club on K Rd from 10pm.

Lola Bangaway, Summer Clearance and Carmen Geddit, the three homecoming queens for Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Dean Purcell
Lola Bangaway, Summer Clearance and Carmen Geddit, the three homecoming queens for Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Auckland Pride Parade held on Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Auckland Pride Parade held on Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
There was plenty of colour on display during the parade. Photo / Dean Purcell
There was plenty of colour on display during the parade. Photo / Dean Purcell

Outrageous costumes, or lack thereof, are par for the course in the parade, with no headdress too sparkly for those marching or dancing atop floats.

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Parade organisers said the event was about honouring the past and celebrating gains made in New Zealand for the LGBTQ community, "but also turn the spotlight on issues that obstruct our march towards full equality".

"Together, we will commemorate the great work of the past. Together, we will party in the present. Together, we will move forward into the future," the event's description read.

The Department of Corrections has this year been barred from marching at the Pride Parade because the festival board felt it had failed to live up to promises made about improving support for LGBTI prisoners.

The department was the only organisation to have been refused participation, with more than 50 groups - including police - joining in.

Marcella, the alter ego drag queen of Business man Marcel, is taking part in the pride parade on Saturday night. Photo/ Nick Reed.
Marcella, the alter ego drag queen of Business man Marcel, is taking part in the pride parade on Saturday night. Photo/ Nick Reed.

ASB bank was participating with its first ever float in the parade, despite sponsoring the event for a number of years.

Dancers on stilts with rainbow coloured wings billowing behind them headed ASB bank's contingent, dancing and weaving amongst a large group in yellow T-shirts representing the bank.

Atop the float is Marcel Goulding, aka Marcella, an ASB banking manager by day who performs in drag by night.

Drag queen Ms Chocolate, who is marching with the New Zealand police, said it was fantastic to come back every war and find the parade bigger and more fabulous.

Dressed in a rainbow feather ruffle, a sparkling silver crown with matching lipstick and and a feathered tutu with towering glittery heels, Ms Chocolate doesn't look like your regular officer.

They said the inclusion of the New Zealand police sent a message to members of the LGBT community they could feel safe even if they hadn't in the past.

"We've got such a diverse country," they said, adding Kiwis were lucky to be so free to express who they were.

"Happy Pride 2017."

Feathers and diamantes galore. Photo / Dean Purcell
Feathers and diamantes galore. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Pride Parade attracted all ages. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Pride Parade attracted all ages. Photo / Dean Purcell
Celebrating Pride on Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Celebrating Pride on Ponsonby Rd, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Parade-goer Sammy Salsa said he was having an "amazing" time.

"This is my fourth one, I feel like this year is a bit more involved and well organised."

Both Salsa and his friend Fiona Tarlton said they liked there had been several politically active groups this year, including a group whose signs spoke out about the transgendered bathroom debate.

"I think people feel freer to speak up this time," Salsa said.

John Bulwark said he and his partner were having an incredible time at the Parade tonight.

"We come every year and it's always so much fun," he said.

"Everyone looked fabulous tonight it was wonderful."