Children’s eyes widen in amazement as hulking mechanical beasts rumble past them.
The high-pitched shrill of a traction engine whistle breaks the air.
Welcome to Crank Up.
Each January the historic Southland town of Edendale is transformed for a weekend as one of New Zealand’s biggest annual vintage machinery events roars into action.
The Edendale dairy factory opened in the early 1880s - and the town is now home to one of the biggest milk processing plants in the world - but it’s Crank Up that really gets Edendale’s wheels spinning.
It’s a rite of passage for southern families, and enthusiasts from near and far, with more than 7000 people drawn to the two-day event each year.
The festival feel rolls into action on Friday night with a main street parade ushering in the weekend’s festivities.
The Crank Up site transforms into a vast tapestry of hundreds of lovingly restored vintage machines, food and craft stalls, children's entertainments, vintage cars and all manner of other vintage finery.
Labours of love are proudly displayed. Machines that have been passed down generations, part of family and community memories. The machinery that broke in a lot of pastoral land in New Zealand.
These aren’t just pieces of machinery - each has a story to tell. Each has value and sentiment to their owners. Rich stories are shared.
There’s a Grand Parade, towing events, helicopter rides, music, lawnmower racing, steampunk and even a dog agility display. Military firefight re-enactments, police and fire brigade displays and tractor pulls keep the young ones transfixed.
Across the way, a Lanz Bulldog tractor chugs by.
Significant anniversaries are celebrated with feature displays of tractors and cars, one year it might be Massey Fergusons, another a century of Citroens.
Quirky categories add a curiosity factor - such as Japanese cars from pre-1990. A 1987 Mitzi Sigma with more than 400k on the clock gleams in the warm January Southland sun.
It’s relatable stuff. Things that were common but are becoming rare. The sense of nostalgia is intoxicating. Childhood memories are rekindled.
Legions of wide-eyes spectators reminisce about times long gone - while others cast curious glances at the technology of yesteryear.
Shearers wield hand shears or a pedal-powered shearing machine delight onlookers.
There’s nothing static about Crank Up - something is happening all the time. Crowds might be eyeing up the action in the main ring, then hear the chugging, hissing and whirring
of a traction engine spluttering into life nearby, and off they go to see what’s happening.
The curiously satisfying aroma of smoky steam fills the air.
A few characters from the West Coast bring their tractors over the alps. Farm tourists travel from overseas to pay homage. Others just happen to be passing through on the day. What a thing to stumble upon.
Lots of people come both days. Happiness and joy abound.
If you’re coming south for Crank Up - we reckon you’ll be keen to check out the rugged coastline of The Catlins, the bright lights of Invercargill, the starry skies of Rakiura/Stewart Island, and the majestic wilderness of Fiordland while you’re here.
Crank is all about comradeship - helping each other out - a keenness to share knowledge with anyone who happens to ask. And banter too: “my tractor’s better than your tractor”.
Come put your two cents’ worth in. We’d love to see you.