A drop in numbers taking part in this year's Otago Goldfields
Cavalcade is just a blip and no reason to panic, organisers
More than 420 people have registered for the event, dubbed
''Panning the Pomahaka'', and all eight trails are full. The
two wagon and three riding trails begin today, while the
three walking trails start on Tuesday. All eight trails will
converge on Tapanui on March 2.
''The total number is down a little on previous years but
we're not panicking about that. We're very happy with those
numbers,'' cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said. In the 20
years of the event, numbers peaked at 800 in 1998, when
Cromwell was the destination. Last year's 20th anniversary
event at Cromwell attracted about 500 riders and walkers.
One of this year's riding trails was cancelled because of low
numbers and the riders who had registered for that swapped
into another trail. It was unusual to cancel a trail, but no
real cause for concern, he said yesterday.
There was probably a mix of reasons behind the decline in
numbers this year.
''It could be a sign of the times, less discretionary income
in people's pockets.''
''Also our regular cavalcaders tend to be more mature people,
and they're getting older. That said though, we're heartened
to note that this year we have 70 first-timers in the
cavalcade, so that's a good sign for the future.''
The Tapanui host town committee had organised a great range
of activities so riders and walkers could be assured of a
''They're pushing the boat out and I think we'll see a high
standard of host town hospitality.''
Ranfurly will host the cavalcade next year and the event will
coincide with the main day of the Ranfurly Art Deco festival.
''In the future, I think we'll look more for host communities
where there is already something on, like the Art Deco
festival in Ranfurly for example, so we can tag in with the
event and swell numbers.''
No decision had been made on the destination for the 2015
cavalcade, so any suggestions were welcome - ''it's up for
grabs'', Mr Davis said. While the focus of the event was on
the riders and wagoners, the walkers made up 20% of the
''They're just as passionate about the event as the riders
are and are an important part of the cavalcade. Like the
riders, they love going over countryside you never usually
get to see.''
Registrations have been received from all over New Zealand
and people were also travelling from Canada, Australia, the
United States and the United Kingdom to take part.
''I've put an order in for good weather, so we'll see what
happens, '' he said.