Anyone who enjoys the sights and sounds of steamboats chuffing on the Whanganui River is in for a treat this weekend as a fleet of small vessels converge for a regatta.
Local steam enthusiast Steve McClune has taken his boat Mary Rose, a 5.2m kauri launch built in 1946, to regattas in other North Island locations and is thrilled to be welcoming other steamboat owners to Whanganui for this year's event, from February 27 to March 1.
"The regatta was started by members of the Auckland Steam Engine Club and they have traditionally been held up north," McClune said.
"This year, I persuaded them to hold it here because we have a beautiful river and a fantastic city to host everyone."
McClune said Whanganui's John Munro hoped to have his own little steamboat ready for the regatta as well.
"It will be great to have two local boats on the river," he said.
Other owners will be putting their boats on trailers and coming from as far north as Warkworth and as far south as Christchurch to join the Whanganui regatta which will leave the Top 10 Holiday Park on Saturday and head upriver to Hipango Park for an overnight stay.
"Organising steamboat guys is a bit like herding cats, but the plan is to stay at Top 10 and head upriver at 9am on Saturday," McClune said.
"Sam Mordey will follow us up in the Wairua to carry the camping gear and coal supplies because our boats are too small to carry them ourselves."
McClune said he was expecting 10 boats, including his own, and on Sunday they will rendezvous with the Waimarie paddle steamer at Hipango Park.
"We are hoping to get some good drone photos of all the boats because it will be the first time that many steamboats have been on that part of the river together for 100 years or more."
The fun won't stop there; on Monday the small fleet plan to sail in the other direction and head to the port with the expert guidance of former Whanganui harbour master Trevor Gibson.