Flying Kites the Ōtaki Way

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A huge green alligator, one of two, hangs over the crowd, along with a red giant squid and a dancing orange horse, were among some of the bigger kites at the Ōtaki Kite Festival

It was another great weekend for the third Ōtaki Kite festival, with almost 20,000 people flocking to Ōtaki Beach over the two days.

“It was a jolly awesome weekend,” festival organiser, Barbara Franks from the Ōtaki Promotion Group said. “All the feedback has been very encouraging.

Several of the big sandbopper kites were back as were the flying whale, dolphin and horses, strings of colourful kites in different shapes and sizes, a couple of seagulls flapped nonstop from atop their stake and the of acrobatic kites evoked oohs and aahs as the climbed, swooped and spun at great speed, to the delight of those watching. The kite buggies attracted 300 passengers to the exhilarating, speedy wind powered mode of travel being towed along the beach by a kite! Kite boarding – a new take on wind surfing. The rider may not have quite the same control as the kite swoops, climbs and drops again at incredible speeds. It’s still a very fast ride along the waves.

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The big kites, a purple panda, orange horse and green and yellow alligator fly high with one of the Japanese style kites, unperturbed by Saturday’s dark and threatening clouds

More static was the ladybug and her colourful family bobbing at ground level or the stately king penguins all tethered in a line. There were strings with 20 or more small kites in many different shapes and styles “hanging” above the beach

Japanese kite maker Mikio Toki had some of his traditional Japanese kites flying and Tony Rice from Brisbane was flying some of his big kites too.

There was plenty to see and do for both young and the not so young. The popular business house ruakaku kite battles have gone from strength to strength, as those controlling the kites have gained in experience. The battle rounds can now last 10 minutes or more, rather than just a few minutes when the fighting kites were introduced. They are just as much fun for watchers. This year Hebe Botanicals was the overall winner.

There were 11 Ōtaki businesses entered for the series, all kites are identical in size and weight. They made by Ōtaki kite maker Yvonne de Mille and each has the name and/or logo of the company. The aim of ruakaku is to try and tangle an opponent’s kite and grounding it while keeping yours flying and still challenging. Last kite flying wins.

Among the new attractions was the long train kite. It was anchored to the ground and children could run and play through the length of it from the engine to the end carriage. There was a queue all day for eager train runners.

“We have a great partnership between the kite festival and the Ōtaki Surf Lifesaving Club,” Ms Franks said. “They did a mock rescue on Sunday. It was great to see what they do do and the feedback from the public was great.”

With National Sea Week being observed, the Kapiti Coast Council’s green team were in action with a beach clean-up. They created a huge dragon like sea monster from the plastic bottles and other “stuff” collected.

There was a free bus service from Waikanae Station to the beach which was well used and appreciated by those who are carless. And to feed the crowds – a variety of food stalls selling almost anything from a barbecued sausage to burgers, ice creams and more.

Entertainment on Saturday was proved by the local band Hottie on the debut appearance and the Beat Girls. On Sunday the Mukumei Taiko drummers had stage when kite maestro Mikio joined them in the action, to the delight of the crowd.

“In terms of the kites, we had some new ones’. The inflatable train was great with the kids able to play inside,” Ms Franks said. “Next year, we’ll use a similar kind of stage set up, and expand on this year’s programme especially more stalls on Saturday.”

From an Infometrics Event Toolkit survey of 500 people carried out over the weekend, 97 per cent said the festival was excellent or good, 89 per cent purchased food or goods from the stalls, 27 per cent went shopping in Ōtaki and five per cent stayed in motels, bed and breakfast stays or holiday homes, bringing $550,000 into the community, or $24 for every $1 from the KCDC events fund.

Kite makers and flyers from the NZ Kite Flyers Association from Nelson, Hawkes Bay, Rotorua and Ashburton’s Peter Lynn Kites were among those at the Ōtaki Beach festival.

Thank you Ōtaki Promotion’s Group for another awesome weekend-long event.