A small but dedicated crowd of Team New Zealand fans braved the pouring rain to see the America's Cup visit Rotorua.

The 167-year-old cup took its first voyage by waka to arrive at Ohinemutu, the same Te Arawa waka that went to San Diego in 1992 to support Team New Zealand.

Despite the rough weather and waves on the lake it safely arrived on the beach, greeted by a crowd of raincoats and umbrellas.

People held welcome signs and children were sporting temporary Emirates Team New Zealand tattoos.


A large group of sailors from the Rotorua Yacht Club were among those who had come to see the cup arrive.

From there the cup made its way by ute to Te Papaiouru Marae.

It was welcomed with a pohiri, beneath an umbrella, as the rain continued to pour.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey stood with Ngati Whakaue as they welcomed them on.

Moving to Tamatekapua, the wet crowd fell silent as Team New Zealand were welcomed by MC for the evening, Monty Morrison.

Kaumatua Mina Mitai gave a heartwarming speech about his time sailing.

He had the crowd laughing with stories about racing on Lake Rotorua and the "sheet and planks of wood" he nailed together for his first "rig".

"Your race was our race, your win was our win," he said.

Team New Zealand ambassador Richard Meacham said it was an absolute privilege to bring the trophy back to Rotorua.

He then welcomed the man behind the cyclor, Guy Endean.

Mr Endean said his first thought when jumping into the waka was "are we going to tip out of this thing."

"We spent a lot of days, raining, cloudy horrible days like this training.


"With a great team we managed to push through."

He spoke to the crowd about the team's journey in Bermuda before opening the floor to questions.

He then answered with a smile as Jessica Nichols, 10 and Emily Adams, 7 bombarded him with difficult questions.

Mrs Chadwick gave the closing speech.

"What a beautiful night for our city.

"It is very special for us, we share your pride."


She thanked the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust and Pukeroa Oruawhata for there sponsorship in making the event happen.

"In Ohinemutu the heavens cried, but they cried with joy."