A kaleidoscope of colour and sound – brightly assembled international teams in a spectacular street march to the strains of New Zealand’s renowned Army Band – traditional Maori singing and welcome messages of faith and hope from local civic elders including Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel.

These were just some of the features of a postcard perfect day in New Zealand’s Garden City prior to World Bowls president John Bell’s official message of appreciation to the government and people of New Zealand, and especially Christchurch, before declaring these 13th World Bowls Championships officially opened.

Over the next thirteen days 200 of the world’s finest players from no fewer than 34 countries will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in men’s and women’s singles, pairs, triples and fours.

Long time fans will once again enjoy the sublime skills of 53-year-old Welshman Robert Weale, who will be competing in an unprecedented eighth championships, while all spectators will wish 14-year-old Gloria Ha from Hong Kong every success in her first world championship experience.

Some defending champions are back again. Australia’s Karen Murphy won the women’s singles in Adelaide last time around is back in the thick of things, while Scotland’s Paul Foster and Alex Marshall, who are also the reigning Commonwealth gold medallists, will be defending the pairs title they won at Lockleys in 2012.

Week one features women’s singles and fours along with men’s pairs and triples, while the schedule reverses over the second week.

Photo: President John Bell officially opens the 13th world championships in Christchurch today.