If you see Deadpool, Spiderman or hobbits running through Tauranga don't be alarmed.

Pop culture will invade Tauranga this weekend as the Armageddon Expo comes to town for the first time.

ASB Baypark is the venue for a weekend of weird, wacky and wonderful people and activities including sword fighting training, cosplay competition, card games and fantasy celebrities.

After 20 years of shows in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch, the Armageddon Expo team decided it was Tauranga's turn.


"We tried other towns as a halfway point between Wellington and Auckland, but we've had so many people say 'oh please come to Tauranga' so we're excited to be trying something new this year," says communications manager Courtney Collins.

She expects between 10,000 and 15,000 people to show up over the two-day event.

Attractions on offer include live wrestling, an ice-skating rink, a laser-tag arena, a cosplay parade, a hot-dog-eating contest and a Hollywood sword-fighting session led by film, TV and martial arts star Adrian Paul.

The Highlander star will train expo-goers to fight with swords the way it's done in movies.

Other celebrities who will be speaking on a panel and be available for autographs and photos are hit TV-show and film stars Jewel Staite (Firefly), Max and Charlie Carver (Teen Wolf) and Matt Letscher (The Flash).

Comic and animation celebrities at the expo include Marvel comic artist Todd Nauck (Spiderman, Deadpool), Ray Chase (One Punch Man, Final Fantasy XV) and Kyle Hebert (Dragon Ball Z, Fullmetal Alchemist).

"The people that come are diverse, they like a huge range of things, but the nature of fandom and pop culture brings them together."

Ms Collins said if turnout was good organisers were looking at making the Tauranga show a permanent feature of the Armageddon calendar.


My Pop Culture store owners Tom and Zoe Gaudin said the pop-culture community was "buzzing".

The couple planned a stall and two big card tournaments at the expo.

Armageddon Expos were nothing new to them, having traded at six others and been to many more as fans.

Mr Gaudin said the atmosphere was fun and bubbly.

"We have some of the most amazing and award-winning cosplayers living in Tauranga. They spend up to a year working on their costumes ahead of the expo."

He said fans of pop culture and fantasy were growing in number and while 15 years ago it was pushed aside as "geeky" it was now becoming more mainstream.

"It's not just a bunch of geeks in a room; it's so much more - there's people from all walks of life," he said.

Mrs Gaudin said the expos attracted people young and old and everyone was "so loving and supportive".

Dressing up in cosplay allowed people to "transform themselves" and gave people a lot of confidence.

"It's just fun."

Armageddon Expo
Where: ASB Baypark Arena
When: Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28, 10am to 5pm
Tickets: At the door or online https://www.armageddonexpo.com/

Large numbers of people, many in costume, flooded into ASB Showgrounds, Auckland, for the Armageddon expo last year. Photo/file
Large numbers of people, many in costume, flooded into ASB Showgrounds, Auckland, for the Armageddon expo last year. Photo/file