Petone Winter Carnival 2010

This event kinda snuck up on me, I only noticed the signs for it the day it was on while we were ferrying the dog to his favourite exercise place (termed 'Rabbitville' for fairly obvious reasons). Talking with my cousin we had already decided to go on a bit of a photographers ramble and having a carnivale to attend just presented too good an opportunity to miss. So later that day we came back to see what was on offer.

As far as I am aware this has been going on for about five years now and it has been quietly building each year getting bigger and bigger. This year it stretched across a very respectable chunk of the Petone beach and had a healthy variety of activities going on. There was the Polar Plunge, Ice Sculptures as well as people building driftwood fire sculptures to complement the professionally made ones. Live music was provided from a stage which alternated with a magician plying his trade. Even better a lot of the carnival was free so it was a family friendly busy day and there seemed to be a good couple of thousand people present throughout the day.

But the big attractions of the day all were waiting for the sun to set and darkness to ensue. Kicking it off was the sequential burning of the fire sculptures. I have to wonder how often people get paid to give in to their arsonist tendancies but these provided a great start to the night time display. Flames and sparks leapt into the night and the heat put out kept you warm as the evening seabreeze off the harbour died down. The lighting continued down the beach with each sculpture being burnt, we left after the second one was lit to go see what else we could find that was going on.

This brought us back to see some fire dancers plying their trade. Working to their own quieter music they shifted between a burning hula hoop, braziers on a chain and fire sticks. Every so often one of them would stop to do some fire-eating as well. How they didn't set their clothes alight with some of the maneuvers I will never know - that hula hoop looked especially dangerous.

By this point in the proceedings I'd been on my feet for four hours and was starting to want to sit down for a bit. So we continued wending our way back to the car where we could sit and wait for the fireworks. This meant going back through the center of the carnival where things were further kicking into high gear. The stage was alternating between a band and a magician while on the sea foreshore two stiltwalkers were standing and posing dramaticly in the seabreeze. Their outfits had big wings that rippled in the breeze forming a lovely human sculpture. How they managed to stand on stilts against the breeze is something I am still bemused by.

With a short break at the car we got to the final event of the night - the fireworks display. This was spectacular even if the wind was driving the smoke and debris directly onto our vantage point. At times it got sufficiently dense that we couldn't see the pier or the fireworks themselves - only hear them as they went off. So mental note for another year, don't stand downwind of fireworks displays. It also was pretty long, lasting the better part of fifteen minutes. Some dingbat brought their dog along to the show - something it unsurprisingly found quite scary. So much as I enjoyed the display I felt very sorry for that dog.

Given that the Carnival itself is free it was well worth attending. There was a good selection of things to see and do and the schedule was timed pretty well so that everyone could see the bigger events and still have time to wander sampling the smaller features. If I had arrived earlier I would have tried the Segways which were available for a brief hire.

Philip R. Banks
Send Email

Return to the Noticeboard
Return to the Fortress Entrance