More than 20,000 aviation enthusiasts flocked to Omaka Aerodrome near Blenheim during Easter weekend for the third Classic Fighters air show.

Spectators at the show were treated to re-creations of World War 1 planes and some of the last surviving planes from World War 2.

There were also reconstructions of battles from the world wars taking place metres from the crowd.

The French theme of the show was embraced by many, with costumes and French cuisine seen everywhere.

Visitors, including hundreds from overseas and King Kong director Peter Jackson, also saw classic cars, trade stalls and RNZAF displays.

Air Show committee chairman Allan Baker said planning was under way for the 2007 show.

Aviation enthusiasts in Marlborough will now be busy with the Aviation Heritage Centre due to open later this year.

Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton, who opened the show on Saturday morning, said the centre, along with the show, the classic fighters restorations and aviation industries such as Safe Air, were creating a "centre of excellence" in Marlborough.

"It is very exciting for the region and there is no reason why Blenheim can't become a major aviation engineering centre on an international scale."

Aviation Heritage Centre facilitator Jane Orphan said the focus could go on to the centre and what was going inside it.

"The air show has provided a heck of a lot of interest and tourism pull into Marlborough and we need to capitalise on that.