Waiau Vintage/classic Vehicle Parade
This event was first trialled on the Saturday of Labour Weekend in 2010, and proved to be such a success that the Waiau Citizen’s Association decided to make it an annual happening.
The first element is the Lodge-to-lodge half marathon. This starts at the Mount Lyford Lodge on the Inland Scenic Route, and concludes directly outside the Waiau Hotel. The beautiful, restored historic hotel is now 104 years old, and Waiau is on the scenic inland road in North Canterbury, between Hanmer and Kaikoura, in the area that’s part of what’s known as the Alpine Pacific Triangle, made up of Kaikoura to Hanmer to Waipara, with its vineyards. The village of Waiau is a great place for a break when travelling this scenic route. If calling in at the Waiau Hotel, be sure to visit the outdoor garden café — the sign at the entrance reads ‘O’malley’s Garden. All ye who enter must wear a smile’. The beer garden is named after this historic hotel’s first publican, Frederick Joseph O’malley (1910–1920).
Within the half marathon there is also the Bayleys 10km walk-run starting at the Wardle River Bridge. Children can take part with the popular 2.5km race, starting from the 137-year-old historic Highfield Shearing shed.
This year again saw ever increasing entry numbers, with 117 runners competing in the half marathon and 107 in the Bayley’s 10km walk/run, while 32 children faced the starter’s gun in the 2.5km race.
The Grand Parade
The grand parade is regarded as the climax to the day’s activities. All vehicles planning to participate are driven to the Waiau Primary School on arrival for a static display, before departing at 1.30pm. In the 12 years we have been associated with Waiau, I have discovered there are an amazing number of old, original vehicles in the town and surrounding countryside. Every year at this event one or two new ones turn up. One very interesting really old vehicle on show and in the grand parade was the mobile work hut, built in the early 1920s by Samuel Mander in his wheelwright workshop on Cheviot Street, Waiau. His client was Ernest Hart, who used it as his overnight accommodation when he worked with a team of horses and wooden drays on gravel road repairs and river flood protection for the Amuri County Council. Ernest Hart passed away in 1957, and since that time his hut lay in storage at the property of his son and daughter-in-law, Frank and Melva, in Waiau until her death in June of 2014. Their son Alan then donated the horse-drawn piece of history to the Amuri Historical Society. Over the following three months Bruce Forbes and Rocky Brockman spent many hours restoring this icon, at the Forbes family-owned historic Derrett’s Coaching Stables, established in 1887.
A 1927 Chrysler was the oldest vintage on parade, while the classics ranged through the years to a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro owned by the Waiau Hotel’s proprietor.
As the parade route is quite short, I put forward the suggestion on the day that the grand parade be extended to two laps of the circuit. This was approved, and turned out to be quite successful and popular with the drivers, passengers and the viewing public alike.
To add even more interest to this year’s event was the showing of seven three-wheel motorbikes, home-built Vw-powered and exotic factory-built machines.
The Triumph Stag Owners club boosted the number of classic cars by coming along with about six of their British beauties. Perhaps more one-make clubs could be persuaded to participate in future years.
On the way to the show that morning in our Mazda MX-5 we found ourselves travelling along State Highway One in midconvoy with about 10 Ferraris. We were, for a while, hoping that they too were heading to Waiau, but they carried straight ahead when we turned off the main road after crossing the Waipara River Bridge. What a shame — 10 red Ferraris among the 28 vintage and classic vehicles would have been great to see in this little North Canterbury country town. Maybe next year!