Thousands of cheering Kiwis basked in glorious sunshine at the world rowing championships at Lake Karapiro yesterday, dining out on icecream, wine and two New Zealand golds.

More than 12,000 people crammed into the grandstand and banks of the lake for the penultimate day's action.

And if you were a Kiwi you were not disappointed.

Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown won New Zealand's first gold medal of the regatta, powering to victory in the women's pairs with an effortless three-second victory over second-placed Great Britain, with United States pipping Australia at the line to claim the bronze.

Then it was the turn of the men's pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, who defended their world title in a narrow win over arch rivals Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge, overhauling the Great British pair in the final 500m to win by just 50cm in a thrilling finish as they delighted the full house.

And then it was all eyes on three-time world champion single sculler Mahe Drysdale, but he had to settle for silver.

But he is now looking ahead to the London Olympics in 2012.

To complete the medal haul, Emma Twigg won bronze.

Aucklander Tracey Preston, 25, recently toured the world's top rowing venues and rated Lake Karapiro near the top of the list.

It was better than a World Cup regatta she went to in Lucerne in July, where spectators struggled to watch the racing because of trees.

"It was so much more low key than this," said Preston. "This is really well set up."

Karapiro was also much more relaxed than the Henley Royal Regatta she attended in England in June.

Women were required to wear skirts of a certain length and "etiquette police" reprimanded spectators for talking on cellphones.

Australian rower Angus Morton said the regatta was a fantastic spectacle.

Wearing a wig of green and gold spikes and draped in an Australian flag, the under-23 world lightweight doubles champion rated Karapiro a lot better than where he won his title at Racice, Czech Republic.

"I'm really proud to see the Worlds down in this atmosphere," said Morton, who was holidaying in New Zealand with family members.

Between the afternoon rowing sessions the crowd was kept entertained with live bands, Brown Brothers and The Monroes.

The food carts had a local flavour, including hangi, smoked eel and mussel fritters.