Jacinda Ardern is set to become the first Prime Minister to join the colourful line-up in Auckland's Pride Parade.

Ardern will cut the last of several rainbow ribbons to mark the start of tonight's event, before hitting Ponsonby Rd alongside the Labour Party's red caravan.

Ardern said she couldn't remember how many times she had walked in the parade before becoming Prime Minister but that it had been enough "to know I feel enormously proud that it's an annual event".

"The fact we live in a country where we shut down the streets to celebrate diversity, and that we can tell a generation of young people that they live in a place that is inclusive and supportive of who they are, is something I hope we keep doing. I know I will."

Advertisement
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be walking alongside Labour's red caravan in the 2018 Pride Parade. Photo / Supplied
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be walking alongside Labour's red caravan in the 2018 Pride Parade. Photo / Supplied

Parade producer Shaughan Woodcock said it was "very exciting" to have a Prime Minister walking in the parade for the first time.

When asked what he thought Ardern's involvement would demonstrate, Woodcock said: "I think the overall message is that we are being led by a progressive government, a government that stands for all groups not just some.

"It also sends a very clear message outside of New Zealand that New Zealand is leading the way around basic human rights and human rights for our rainbow community, and that it is time for the other countries to step up."

Pride Parade producer Shaughan Woodcock with one of the floats being constructed for tonight's event. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Pride Parade producer Shaughan Woodcock with one of the floats being constructed for tonight's event. Photo/Jason Oxenham

And there will be plenty to see at this year's event, dubbed "the largest and loudest carnival of equality and diversity in Aotearoa" by organisers.

Woodcock said the 25,000-strong crowd that usually turned out for the event could expect "loads of glitter, loads of sound and lighting" and "a mass amount of people walking down the street being who they are and demonstrating how they want to be".

Leading the more than 70 floats will be a larger-than-life peace bird made with 500 rainbow-coloured aluminium rods, to represent this year's parade theme of pride and peace.

Keep an eye out for NZ Police and their specially designed patrol car. Photo/NZ Police/Jamie Wright
Keep an eye out for NZ Police and their specially designed patrol car. Photo/NZ Police/Jamie Wright

A one-of-a-kind, rainbow-coloured police patrol car was also set to make its debut, flanked by Police Commissioner Mike Bush. Police dogs, horses and motorbikes were also set to feature.

And, New Zealand Rugby will have its own float for the first time.

The event will also be one to remember for Kiwis Sinead O'Connell and Victoria Envy who will tie the knot in front of thousands of spectators on celebrant group the Glitter Squad's float.

Other highlights to keep an eye out for tonight included Fletcher Building's decorated cement trucks - one multi-coloured and the other a surprise for the crowd - a flyover of a C130 Hercules and a performance by Kiwi musician Annie Crummer on the final float.

Buckwheat with Fletcher Building's rainbow cement truck that will feature in tonight's Pride Parade. Photo/Supplied
Buckwheat with Fletcher Building's rainbow cement truck that will feature in tonight's Pride Parade. Photo/Supplied

Woodcock said about 3500 people were set to participate in this year's parade - up 300 on last year.

"It's huge this year."

He said the increased interest was due to factors including companies becoming more willing to show that they hold strong values around unity, diversity and equality.

And it's finally good news on the weather front after the Big Gay Out was cancelled last Saturday because of heavy rain.

It's meant to be a mainly fine day with the chance of a shower.

"The weather obviously threw a curve ball at the beginning of the week but the weather gods are on side now," said Woodcock.

What you need to know

Time:

Tonight, 7.30pm. There is no rain date – for updates including potential cancellations listen to ZM (91.0 FM).

Location: Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.

Catch the action anywhere along the street or from the event's official grandstand in Western Park, where there will be food stalls, drinks and pre-parade entertainment. Tickets for grandstand seating are going for $40 and can be purchased here.

Weather: Mainly fine with the chance of a shower throughout the day. High 27C, low 20C.

Public transport:
Bus: The Inner Link goes every 15 minutes on a Saturday. Its route includes Britomart, Parnell, Newmarket, Victoria Park, Ponsonby and Karangahape Rd.

Due to the parade, there will be bus stop closures and detours in place for the Inner Link, 020 and 030 from 4pm until 11pm.

For a full list of stop closures and diversions go to at.govt.nz.

Train: Catch the train to Britomart station then take the Inner Link up to Ponsonby.

Ferry: For those coming from Waiheke and Devonport on the ferry, the Downtown Ferry Terminal is next to the Britomart Transport Centre, where you can catch buses to Ponsonby.

Parking restrictions:
2.30pm to 7.30pm: Margaret St.
4.30pm to 11pm: Ponsonby Rd, Pompallier Tce, Redmond St, Crummer Rd, Hopetoun St.

Road closures:
4.30pm to 11pm: Ponsonby Rd, Pompallier Tce, Redmond St, Crummer Rd, Maidstone St, Hopetoun Street (from Ponsonby Rd to Hereford St).
2.30pm to 7.30pm: Margaret St.