Rubber duckies battle and bobble for first place

Brett Bell-Booth is hoping people will sponsor a duck for the big race.

Five thousand little yellow ducks are set to flex their wings and put in the hard yards ahead of their biggest race yet next month.

The Great Tauranga Duck Race is in its third year, and sees rubber ducks big and small let loose in Tauranga Harbour.

The event aims to raise funds for three local surf lifesaving clubs in Papamoa, Omanu and Mount Maunganui.

Tauranga Te Papa Rotary Club event leader, Brett Bell-Booth, says: “Our surf lifesaving clubs work tirelessly to keep our beaches safe, and the Tauranga Te Papa Rotary Club want to support their efforts.”

There will be three duck races this year, including the General Duck Race, a School’s Duck Race and the Corporate Duck Race.

The general race will feature 5000 numbered rubber ducks, and you can buy a ticket for $5 which matches the number on a duck. The ducks are scooped out at the end of the race, and if the ticket has been sold for first, second and third, the winner will receive $1000. There’s a runners-up prize of $500, while third place will win $250.

“In the General Duck Race, all 5000 ducks will be put in a container,” explains Brett. “A crane at the start line will drop that container of ducks into the water, which is quite spectacular.

“Then the tide will take them across to the start line, which is about 100 metres away.

“The surf club and an IRB will be on patrol to ensure no ducks get away.”

The School’s Duck Race involves larger ducks, and each student will represent their school as they try and win $1000 worth of supplies, ranging from sports equipment to educational items such as books and stationary.

“We also have a Corporate Duck race, where large ducks are sold for $200 plus GST and corporates can dress their duck with their own branding,” says Brett. “Basically it’s all about bragging rights.

“Last year, someone had attached a motor to their duck and they blitzed the field by remote control. This year, to make it a bit fairer, we have two sections - an unassisted and an assisted race.”

On the day there will also be spot prizes for best dressed ducks as well as trophies available for the winners.

Brett assures that no rubber ducks are harmed in the race. They will be pulled out, put back in the container and trucked back to Dunedin to be reused again.

With the large ducks, schools are welcome to take them home and reuse them for next year’s race.

“We’d love to see all 5000 ducks sold on the day,” says Brett. “Last year we raised $20,000 for the lifeguard services, and this year we hope to raise $10,000 for each club, so come on down and join in on the fun.”

The Great Tauranga Duck Race will be held on Sunday, May 5, from 10.30am-1.30pm on The Strand.

Purchase your duck today at: or visit Papamoa, Omanu or Mount Maunganui Lifeguard clubs.

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