The Whangārei Maritime Festival, taking place in October, will celebrate the maritime history and boat-building heritage of Whangārei, New Zealand. The festival, organized by the Black Ball Yacht Club, promises a weekend of maritime celebration and fun for all ages. It aims to showcase the district’s proud maritime history and the promising future of young talents in the marine trades. The festival will feature a classic boat show with over 30 classical boats on display, including the iconic R. Tucker Thompson, which represents Northland’s maritime heritage. There will also be marine trade displays, nautical-themed art and craft markets, talks and movies, and plenty of family fun, food, and entertainment.
The Whangārei Maritime Festival originated from the establishment of the Black Ball Yacht Club in 2018. The club, formed by a group of international cruisers, created the Black Ball Scholarship Fund to inspire young individuals from the Northland region to pursue careers in the marine trades. Recognizing the importance of introducing children to the maritime world at a young age, the club partnered with the Spirit of New Zealand and the R. Tucker Thompson, both renowned for their youth development programs, to lay the foundation for the next generation of maritime leaders.
Last year, a display of nine classic boats was curated to spotlight the new section of the Hātea River Walk in Whangārei. The success of this inaugural showcase has led to the evolution of the Whangārei Maritime Festival into a signature event that aims to capture the heart of the district. The organizers hope that the festival will join the ranks of internationally renowned boating gatherings like Port Townsend’s in the US and Hobart’s in Tasmania. The festival will offer a wide range of activities, including the classic boat show, marine trade displays, nautical-themed markets, talks and lectures, and family entertainment.