We had been in Gore for a couple of days and whilst wandering around the town we came across an out of date poster that reminded us of the Burt Munro Challenge that had been on in early February. Although we were still north of Christchurch during the time the challenge was on, it was in part, what prompted us to make a day trip back to Invercargill.
Remembering the hundreds of motorbikes that we had seen I suggested to Sarah that we make a day trip to Invercargill, which is only about an hours drive South of Gore, pop out to Oreti beach and have a look at the famous sands. Once done with that we could also have a look at Bill Richardson’s Transport World.
We read online that almost four thousand motorbikes attended the event so it’s not surprising that we saw so many of them during the early part of our time in the South Island.
We started with a visit to Oreti Beach the home of Burt Munro and the worlds fastest Indian to see where all these motorbikes had been. As you can see it’s a long straight flat piece of sand that would have been ideal for the motorbike racing and the land speed record attempts that were undertaken here early last century.
Apologies for the terrible photo of the motorhome (it’s the only one I took) but we reached the end of the tar seal and I didn’t want to drive the motorhome down to the beach. The sand itself seemed firm enough but the bit between the tar seal and beach rather soft so we didn’t get to see how the worlds fastest Dethleffs Globetrotter got on setting it’s own record.
Anyway there wasn’t really that much to see on the day we visited with just a few cars up and down the beach plus there is a 30kph speed limit anyway these days.
From the beach to the city with the good news that the Museum is handily located on the outskirts of town and as it’s not Auckland, parking was right outside the entrance. Or at least it would have been if we had been driving a car. Thankfully there was a space for the motorhome about 500 metres down the road and with no rain it was an easy walk back to the entrance.
Admission is $25 per person with an upgrade ticket available if you wanted to visit the motorbike museum further down the road. Quite reasonable I thought considering the size of the place and the number of vehicles on display. You can also just enter the cafe for free then peer through the interior windows at some of the displays.
From the entrance way you proceed into the exhibit hall and the first thing that catches your eye is the incredible restoration job that’s been done on the Texaco fuel tanker it must have taken hundreds if not thousands of man hours to restore this back to the condition it’s displayed in today.
I though Sarah fitted in quite well in this hall with all the red equipment she was very well disguised.
For a man that had started his life in the trucking business it was certainly a diverse collection with the exhibit halls awash with sparkling colour from the oldest cars to the most modern Mustang outside the entrance it was hard to know where to look next.
From small to large the display changed from hall to hall and although most of the exhibits are not roped off they do have a request to look but not touch. I must say that in some cases it was very hard not to do this and the urge to jump inside the tiny BMW was very strong. I have always been fond of small cars and this example is just cute!
As I said earlier Bill Richardson made his money in the trucking business or at least started out there and the museum is heavily dedicated to trucks with a huge number on display.
They almost look like Matchbox toys displayed underneath you when you stand on the gallery a look down at them. But each one is a real truck almost all of them are in running order and could be driven away from the museum in the event of fire of similar disaster.
But it’s not just cars and trucks on display there is also a massive collection of petrol and diesel filling bowsers. Compared to today’s petrol pumps these ones certainly had character. It’s not hard to see why some of these are worth huge money as they are almost a work of art.
It’s not just the serious stuff there are also a number of fun exhibits with a jail built behind one of the old police paddy wagons. The cab from a “B” Train truck to provide photo opportunities, even if it is left hand drive. As well as a replica Mini from the movie Goodbye Pork Pie filmed in NZ in 1981. With the movie finishing in Invercargill it’s a bit of local history as well.
Both Sarah and I had Mini’s in fact it was the first car that Sarah ever owned, so the chance to sit in one, even one that’s mostly dismantled brought back good memories for both of us.
As we wandered around we came across this little Mini Estate which brought back a second lot of memories for me as my Mum and Dad used to own a very similar car when we lived in England. Looking at how small it is it’s hard to believe that my parents and the three of us boys used to travel around in one.
In the days before seat belts we even used to be transported asleep on the floor in the back whilst we made the long drive from our home in Surrey to Yorkshire to visit my Grandparents a drive of some 400 miles.
It really was well worth making the journey back south to have a look at this museum. It really is quite amazing that one man could have left such a legacy not only for the town of Invercargill but also everyone in New Zealand and I thoroughly recommend that you make a visit here.
Just another couple of photos of the museum, well worth the visit as well as making the time to get to Oreti Beach. With the Rodeo and Stockcar racing in town that weekend accommodation was at a premium. So we then headed back to Gore for another night at the A&P Showgrounds
It’s here that I want to test out something I have been working on for a little while. A Ratings system for the camps that we have stayed at being totally biased (It’s only my opinion that counts) I will rate all the campgrounds we stay at from now onwards under this system.
I must acknowledge my son Richard who wrote the software for this rating system after I described to him what I wanted. Expect to see it in all future posts.
My apologies that this blog is well out of sequence from our time in the South Island I just never found the time to write it. There are still a couple of posts to come from the South before we head North in June.
Click here to read all camp ground ratings published so far