It’s confirmed. After Wings & Wheels  2024, if it wasn’t already an iconic Thames event, it is now.

The fifth iteration of the event has firmly claimed a spot on the Thames calendar – although because of the sheer amount of organisation required to pull off such a multi-faceted event, it’s likely to be biannual, rather than annual.

Congratulations go out to all the organisers, including the Thames Business Association, Thames Vintage and Classic Car Club, Hauraki Aero Club and the many vehicle and plane enthusiasts who poured hours of energy into ensuring all aspects of the event were well coordinated.

The logistics of ushering 5000+ people into one space, with ample parking, food, drink, toilets and entertainment is no small feat. More than 70 volunteers from several local organisations pitched in to ensure everything ran smoothly, including the disability shuttle, first aid and health and safety on the day.

On Saturday, January 27 a crowd of more than 5000 people turned out to view the classic and vintage vehicles on display. That kind of turn-out in a town that only numbers just under 8000 people is an extraordinary success and proves that Thames has what it takes to create showcase events that attract people from Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and beyond.

After a week of scorching hot blue sky weather, organisers were relieved to wake up to overcast skies. Whilst there were intermittent rain showers during the day, it didn’t dampen people’s spirits or enthusiasm.

Sue Lewis-Halloran, the CEO of the Thanes Business Association said there were over 300 vintage and classic vehicles – cars, trucks, motorbikes plus monster trucks. There were a significant number of private aircraft as well.

The crowds were entertained with live music from Shades of Dark and The Action. “The vibe on the day was positive, upbeat and people were excited to be there.’ said Lewis-Halloran. “There were a number of families – some of 3 generations – all out enjoying everything that the event had to offer.

More than 20 food vendors served up everything from pizza and burgers to mussels and fish & chips, and of course, ice cream, coffee and the beer garden. The crowd was hungry and some of the food vendors sold out, including the Coast Guard, who’s volunteers were running a fundraiser. Fortunately, the wide selection meant that other food was still available.

Every year, the organisers step up the event. In 2021 a formal airshow was added – see photos of that here.

This year the crowd was wowed by a military reenactment conducted by The World War II Historical Re-enactment Society. This included static displays of equipment and firearms, plus members dressed in various uniforms – all based around WW II. There was also a battle re-enactment, which involved blank firing a variety of WW II period weapons used by our Kiwi troops, the US airborne & also the German Paratroopers (we fought on Crete & in Italy) in WW II. (See photos above).

‘The aerobatics by the New Zealand Warbirds were spectacular,’ said Sue Lewis-Halloran. ‘We hope to welcome everyone back in 2026.’