Rotorua played host to not your average water sport today as 900 rubber ducks raced down Hamurana Springs.

The Westpac Chopper Appeal is currently underway and the local Westpac team put on a rubber duck race to raise funds for the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter.

Seven hundred ducks had been available for 'adoption' at $5 each or $20 for five, but they had all been adopted by late Wednesday morning.

A last minute donation of 200 additional ducks from the Life Education Trust all sold out before the race got underway.


More than 100 people crammed along the stream side and filled the bridge to catch the action as the barrels of ducks were tipped into the water.

The ducks raced towards the lake to a fanfare of cheers as people tried to spot their own duck and hoped they were in the group racing ahead of the pack.

Crystal Gavin and her son Carter had bought five ducks each.

"We saw there were a few more ducks, and we just had to get some," she said.

"We appreciate all the work that these guys (rescue helicopter) do."

Some of the ducks got caught in the weeds, but fortunately search and rescue divers were in the water to make sure they finished the race.

For those who missed out on buying a duck there were lots of opportunities to donate and enjoy the sunshine.

Raffles, competitions and a gold coin sausage sizzle were all available.

900 Ducks race to the finish line at Hamurana Springs. Photo/Stephen Parker
900 Ducks race to the finish line at Hamurana Springs. Photo/Stephen Parker

Frances Turpie bought two ducks for her 8-year-old son Rhys.

"It's great, it's a really good day and such a great way to fundraise," she said.

The local BayTrust helicopter rescue needs about $1.2 million a year to run, and gets less than 50 per cent of its funding from ACC and local district health boards.

The remainder must come from public donations.

Each mission costs about $7800, and choppers are used frequently in search and rescue operations and to reach sites that are difficult to access by road.

There were 169 rescues in the Rotorua area last year.

Westpac bank manager Ian Baker said they were still finding their feet but next year they'll make it even better.