PM takes a bow at Auckland Pride Parade

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Lexie Matheson of the Auckland Pride Festival board. - Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Auckland's Pride Parade kicked off with the cutting of rainbow-coloured ribbons and an address from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The event is dubbed by its organisers as the 'largest and loudest carnival of equality and diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand'.

Thousands of spectators lined Ponsonby Road to watch the fanfare. The Dykes on Bikes motorcade headed the parade and were followed by Rainbow Youth flying flags, multicolored balloons and bubbles.

Addressing the crowd, Ms Ardern said the government "walks beside" the Rainbow community.

It is the first time a Prime Minister has walked in the parade, organisers said.

And, in a first for the southern-hemisphere, a same-sex couple will exchange vows on one of the floats.

Another 60 or more floats will wind their way down the main strip.

One woman said it was her first time at the parade and she was there to "celebrate all love".

The pride parade - now in its sixth year - marks the final celebration for the two-week long Auckland Pride Festival, which has showcased more than 85 musical, theatre and discussion events.

Floates include some made by the rainbow community, political parties, universities and businesses, are in support of the LGBTQI community.

The Human Rights Commission, Auckland District Health Board and the New Zealand Rugby Community are among nine organisations taking part this year.

The alcohol-free event focuses on "peace, love and unity at a time of escalating global unrest," its organisers said.

The floats snake their way down Ponsonby Road, beginning near Tole Street and ending at Western Park.

Wheelchair access was available at the Auckland Pride Parade Grandstand.

Many streets off Ponsonby Road were closed or had parking restrictions until 11pm, including Margaret Street, Pompallier Terrace, Redmond Street, Crummer Road and Hopetound Street.

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