Hundreds craned their necks as they first heard and then watched 1500 golf balls tumble down the Durie Hill Tower.

The Great Ball Race was the finale to a mini-gala day yesterday to raise money for Durie Hill School.

Gumboot throwing, food stalls and other entertainment was on hand as hundreds gathered under the tower in the Sunday sun.

People had been able to purchase a numbered golf with the first 12 to fall down the spiral staircase earning a prize.

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Children lined the finishing shute as fluro balls emerged in a trickle and then a wave.

And the winner? Number 125, bought by John Wells.

It is the first time the ball drop has been run since 2013 but the event has been around for about 15 years.

Durie Hill School principal Geoff Simes said he was thrilled with the turnout and the Great Ball Race was becoming more known.

"Excellent response," he said.

"There's lots here that are not part of our immediate school community. It's a unique idea, it's definitely spreading out into wider Whanganui."

Mr Simes said many had come on board to help out on the day.

"It's good to see parents but also a lot of our ex-students who are helping out so I think that's a positive sign."

Mr Simes said the school wanted to repaint its pool at a cost of more than $10,000 and was confident the gala raised enough money to do so.

It aimed to be open by January 1.

Organiser Gene Ridgway said the event had gone smoothly.

"An amazing number of people have turned up," he said.