A band of drummers and pipers representing Scottish clans marched down Waipu's main street to mark the grand entry at Caledonian Park for the hugely popular Waipu Highland Games.

Rain clouds did not deter the 5000-plus crowd expected by games organisers from coming through the gates to enjoy plenty of activities on show yesterday — from piping and highland dancing competitions to athletics events, food stalls and children's rides.

The games started with the grand entry and street march at 9am.

As usual, the highland heavyweight competition was the most popular spectator event with Canadian highland heavyweight games female champion Susie Lajoie challenging the men, adding another level of excitement.

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The personal trainer took part in all seven traditional events but in the women's weight division which was slightly lower than that of men.

The 26-year-old hails from Nova Scotia on the east coast and said her participation in the games was special in that people from her province settled in Waipu in the mid 1980s.

She arrived in New Zealand on a visit two months ago and came to Waipu specifically to either take part or watch the games and was lucky when the games organisers gave her the go-ahead. She was the only female competitor.

Canadian highland heavyweight games female champion Susie Lajoie competes amongst men in the stone throw. Photo/John Stone
Canadian highland heavyweight games female champion Susie Lajoie competes amongst men in the stone throw. Photo/John Stone

"I hope the crowd will see a woman competing and be interested in competing next year. It's great to have a women's division because in some places women don't realise this is something they can do."

Lajoie has competed in the highland heavyweight competitions in Canada for the last 10 years after her friends encouraged her to take part.

She has also registered for the Paeroa Highland Games and Tattoo on February 10.

She is working in Whangārei in exchange for food and accommodation.

Crowd numbers swelled after 11.30am including the Marom family, originally from Israel, who travelled from Auckland to attend the games

Uri Marom, partner Sharon, sons Omer and Yuval and daughter Yael decided to watch the games after a friend raved about it.

Tourists Uri Marom with sons Omer, 10, left, Yuval, 5, and daughter Yael, 7, enjoying their first visit to the Waipu Highland Games. Photo/John Stone
Tourists Uri Marom with sons Omer, 10, left, Yuval, 5, and daughter Yael, 7, enjoying their first visit to the Waipu Highland Games. Photo/John Stone

"The only problem is the difficulty in getting up after drinking the night before which is New Year's Eve but we're here to have a good time and the weather's been fabulous," Uri Marom said.

Marine biologist Joe Austin, who hails from south India but works in Ruakaka, accompanied his Malaysian friend Jian Tan to the games after finding out about it online.

"We were looking at what to do on New Year's Day and found out about this event which we've found to be very family-oriented and not too crowded," Tan said.

Pat Hadlee, from the games organising committee, expected more people who partied most of the night to turn up from about midday.