Stack of events pull in visitors

The Queenstown and Southern Lakes Pipe Band leads the Arrowtown Autumn Festival street parade on Saturday. Thousands of people flocked to Buckingham St to take in all the sights, sounds and tastes of the opening weekend of the festival's 30th anniversary. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The Queenstown and Southern Lakes Pipe Band leads the Arrowtown Autumn Festival street parade on Saturday. Thousands of people flocked to Buckingham St to take in all the sights, sounds and tastes of the opening weekend of the festival's 30th anniversary. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The Wakatipu business community had every reason to smile over the weekend as school holidays and the long weekend, combined with the Arrowtown Autumn Festival and the inaugural Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival, brought visitors to the resort in droves.

Anzac Day was commemorated in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Glenorchy by thousands of residents and visitors of all ages, despite the first instance of rain on the day in more than 20 years.

Queenstown Returned and Services Association (RSA) president David Geddes said cancellation of the parade to the memorial service was considered until showers eased. The programme continued as planned.

''Memorial service numbers were down, but we put that down to it being a grim day and there being a very good turnout for the dawn service,'' Mr Geddes said.

''The memorial service was very well received, with lots of comments from visitors from the North Island and Australia saying it was the best Anzac Day service they've attended.''

Mr Geddes said the dawn service will be held in Queenstown for a third year in 2015. It was expected to become an annual mainstay, given the support from the community, especially young people.

The Anzac Day memorial service overflowed, with people paying tribute in the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall.

Rain prompted the parade to go to the Arrowtown and District War Memorial beside the fire station to prevent participants slipping on the wet grass of Memorial Hill.

Otherwise, Arrowtown RSA president John Lindsay said he was ''very pleased'' with the service.

There were ''excellent numbers, crowd-wise''.

''We put extra seating in the supper room, but there were still an awful lot of people standing at the back of the hall and outside.''

Next year's Anzac Day will mark the centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli. Arrowtown put its best foot forward on Saturday, with about 12,000 people attending the first full day of the autumn festival.

Now in its 30th year, director Toni Stockham was ''astounded'' at the record numbers attending this year's festival.

Parking was at a premium as buses, camper vans and cars made their way into the town. Buckingham St was lined end to end with vintage cars by 9.30am, which later led the festival's street parade.

On the Village Green more than 100 stall-holders sold their wares - from arts and crafts, to jewellery, food and local products - while children got to grips with every style of bike imaginable.

The crowds dispersed just before 2pm for the street parade, featuring community groups, clubs and businesses vying to win best float award.

That award went to the Arrowtown Cubs and Scouts ,who built a two-part float. Sponges were lobbed from one to the other, and autumn leaves were thrown in return.

About 6000 people packed into the Queenstown Events Centre to enjoy the inaugural Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival.

The oval was lined with food and beverage stalls but all focus was on the main stage, where party goers were treated to some of New Zealand's best acts including Fly My Pretties, The Black Seeds, King Leo and The Johnnys, along with international acts Elvis Costello and The Imposters, and The Doobie Brothers.

Queenstown police warned a man at the festival who jumped the hot dog queue and got into a fight with a man who abused him for jumping the queue.

Senior Constable Julian Cahill said the queue-jumper punched the other man.

An intoxicated woman was ejected from the event after she ''managed to get up on the stage''.

The action continued in Arrowtown on Sunday, with a mad-cap dash down Buckingham St pitting 36 competitors in the Pub to Pub Challenge. It was won by the Arrowtown Rugby team. The forecast rain held off until the final pints were poured on the Village Green at the annual Pie and Pint Festival.

Masterchef NZ contestants Jaimie Stodler and Bec Stanley, both of Arrowtown, judged Wild Earth's pulled pork pie as the best of the event. Awards also went to Jonesy's Cafe & Bar, The Fork'n Tap and the Arrowtown Bakery.

The festival continues until Sunday. Highlights including tonight's Quiz Night at the Athenaeum Hall; an Autumn Night in Arrowtown with Suzanne Prentice tomorrow and the sold out Art2Wear shows on Friday and Saturday evenings.

It ends on Sunday with Arrow's Gold, a variety show at the Athenaeum Hall, coinciding with comedian Billy Connolly playing in Queenstown on Sunday evening.