A walk through a tunnel of kelp will take children into the heart of a Seaweek extravaganza at Port Nikau in Whangarei.
Diving in the deep end, rather than just dipping its toe in, this will be the first time the privately-owned, commercial asset that was formerly Port Whangarei, has taken a lead role in the annual national Seaweek.
The themed week Toiora te Moana - Toiora te Tangata; Healthy Seas, Healthy People is from March 3-11, with Port Nikau's free open day
on March 4, from 9.30am-12.30pm.
Organiser Sarah Fox said Pork Nikau saw it as an opportunity to clean up the waterways of Whangarei, engage the local community, ''and have a blast along the way''.
Free family-friendly activities during the event include a massive cleanup of the harbour, waterways and beaches, with Royal NZ Navy, Sea Cleaners, Blackdog Cats, Limestone Island Rangers and others taking a major role, along with as many volunteers as they can muster. Seven local schools will be among the shoreline cleaners.
The rubbish will be delivered to a site at Port Nikau during the day.
"Keep an eye on the growing pile of rubbish, the target is 15cu m," Ms Fox said.
The 55m inshore patrol vessel HMNZN Hawea, built in Whangarei in 2007, will be berthed at the port and open for kids to explore, meet the sailors and see what life is like on the ocean.
''It's not all that often kids get to scramble all over a navy boat,'' Ms Fox said.
Also berthed there will be the new Customs vessel set to patrol New Zealand coastline, Hawk V. The 18m catamaran commissioned only a month ago, replaced the older Hawk IV which worked New Zealand's coastline for 19 years.
Fabric structure wizard Warwick Bell has made an inflatable, walk-through "kelp"
tunnel, with an eerily underwater atmosphere, to access the fun stuff, including a short, wacky musical stage show Rockpool, featuring Styrene & the Kai Moanas.
Instead of at the Quarry Arts Centre, Te Kowhai Print Trust will hold its annual Printapalooza Printmaking Extravaganza — Northland's largest live action print event where local artists make mural-sized prints with a two-tonne roller — at Port Nikau on the day.
Whangarei Coast Guard, Eco Solutions and other marine groups' displays will offer plenty of grassroots, clean-green advice while the Northland model aircraft club will give flying demonstrations and free laser gliders for the kids to make and fly.
"Support from the local community has been astonishing, along with local schools and community organisations,'' Ms Fox said.