This year's New Zealand Masters Games in Whanganui saw another drop in the number of participants, although organises are cheered that the decline has slowed.

Since 2005 when 7402 athletes took part in the biennial event, the Games have seen roughly 500 fewer entrants at each event.

Two years ago there were 4540 participants and this year that number fell by just 161, with 4379 sportsmen and women enjoyed the 10 days of action.

Kathy Cunningham, chief executive of the Whanganui Events Trust, which took over the running of the Games this year, said the figures showed a slowing of the falling numbers.


"The drop was minimal, so we've staved off a trend, and I am very happy with our numbers," Ms Cunningham said.

The reduction in the number of teams for some sports did have an impact this year.
Touch rugby was down to 10 teams from 24 two years ago and what was to be a two-day competition was wrapped up in one day.

Basketball was down by five teams to 13, and volleyball co-ordinator Miles Johnson said the sport had seen a drop from 17 teams to 15.

Netball also took a hit, with the number of teams dropping to 24 from 36, while fencing and softball had to be dropped completely due to low numbers.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the Games, which wrapped up at the weekend - seven new sports made their way on to the programme for the first time. Among the new additions were lawn bowls, waka ama, outdoor rowing, table tennis, equestrian distance riding, squash, snooker and pool.

Other sports saw their numbers rise, with football up five teams from 38 in 2015 to 43, and hockey had six more teams.

This year saw other changes including an emphasis on entertainment, with bands such as The Magnificent Seven and Wellington group The Warratahs performing at the Games village.

Another change that drew mixed responses was a switch in venue for the village from Springvale Park to the War Memorial Centre.

Mother-of-two Lydia Deere thought the new venue didn't match up. "I went there on Friday it just wasn't as fun. I don't know why," she said.

Frances Glossop, however, thought the change brought much needed business to town.
"It's centralised so it doesn't matter what the weather's like, and it brings a buzz into town, which we need."

Ms Cunningham said organisers had yet to decide whether the switch from Springvale would be permanent.

"I'd say this year was extremely successful and it all bodes well for the 30th anniversary games in 2019."

The games attracted more than 100 competitors from overseas and more than 3000 from outside of Whanganui.