Thousands expected for six days of fun

Arrowtown is where the action is in Wakatipu for the next six days as thousands flock to the township for its 35th Autumn Festival.

Beginning today and continuing through the week with dozens of events, the festival will build to a crescendo on Saturday, when 10,000 people are expected to visit the township for the parade and market day.

The buzz will continue into Sunday with the sold-out Pie, Pint and Pinot event on the Library Green.

Festival co-ordinator Carole Watts said Pie, Pint and Pinot brought together 13 brewers, eight pie makers, Akarua wine and live music.

"It's getting more popular every year - it's such a lovely setting amongst the trees.''

Among new events are Thursday's 5km fun run, which starts and finishes on Wilcox Green.

Also on the programme are annual fixtures such as the duck race, children's workshops, an art exhibition, photo competition, gold panning championships and dog shows.

La Nuit D'extraordinaire, a comedy and vaudeville show at the Athenaeum Hall on Friday and Saturday nights, is close to selling out.

Of all the events, surely none is more intrinsic to the township's history than the New Zealand gold-panning championships, which will be held on Butler's Green on Sunday.

Organising committee member and 2017 world champion Megan Ide-Neill is one of four former world champions from Wakatipu taking part.

Ms Ide-Neill said there would be some "pretty serious'' competitors, but the event would also be a great opportunity for anyone to try their hand.

There were novice, under-13 and under-16 categories, as well as open men, open women and veteran categories.

The winner of each would proceed to the final and the overall winner would represent the country at the Australian championships.

Each pan was spiked with between five and 12 flakes of gold, and the ability to retrieve them the quickest came down to "50% speed, 50% luck''.

Ms Watts said she and her nine-strong festival committee, as well as about 70 volunteers, were hoping for fine weather but were ready for anything.

"Everything goes ahead - rain, hail or shine.''

MetService is forecasting fine weather for the rest of this week, but rain at the weekend.

guy.williams@odt.co.nz

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