Maiden Voyage: Part One
After taking the ST home for the night, preparing and packing the car for the following day, I tried to get a decent night sleep. At 7am, I pulled the car out of the garage and we hit the road. It was going to be a bit of a long day ahead, with the goal to reach Nelson by the end of the day – the other end of the Island! Dad had booked accommodation the night before, so we knew we needed to be there. The plan was to arrive by around 8pm in Nelson, get checked in at the Motel and then try to find ourselves some dinner.
As we’re in the middle of winter, we had some pretty wet and miserable weather on the first leg of our journey. A few hours in and the sun was out, providing enjoyable driving conditions – even if the car was filthy by this stage.
We stopped in Timaru for fuel and a quick bite at the attached Burger King, before changing drivers and continuing on our trip. We regularly drive the Invercargill to Christchurch route, so the plan was just to get to Nelson on this leg – no sight-seeing intended.
I jumped back into the driver’s seat an hour or two out of Nelson, so that I could capture the 1000 kilometer rollover. By this stage, I was driving in the dark and shortly after taking the photograph had around 40 minutes of a gorge to drive in the pouring rain. Dad was laughing as there was a Diahatsu Materia in front of us that I was struggling to keep pace with. The only explanation is that he must have known the road like the back of his hand, as he was peddling it!
After checking into the Motel, we grabbed a Subway for dinner and settled in for the evening.
The next morning our plans included a visit to NZ Classic Motorcycles and then a trip to the World of Wearable Arts & Classic Car Museum. The Classic Motorcycle collection was officially closed to the public, as the business had been sold – which is why we were going there. Dad’s work had purchased the complete collection (bar a handful of bikes) and Dad needed to see how the current place was run, so he could advise what technical infrastructure needed set up in Invercargill so the collection could be presented in the current format.
Excuse the poor cellphone images. I wasn’t expecting to be able to get any photos inside, so had left the DSLR in the boot of the car. As you can see above, the bikes were stacked three-high in racks, which from the ground floor, meant you struggled to see the top bike. This made sense when you went up to the second floor though, as the bikes were then at eye-height.
Loved the bright-yellow Morgan three wheeler and the presentation of bikes on a “fake” racetrack. The owner of the collection also owns a lighting shop, as well as a wallpaper shop, so all of the decorative backgrounds are all wallpaper!
He had also made a small library on the top floor, with fold-out couch – just incase he decided to sleep there one night. There were also some really cool motorbike-inspired bucket chairs that I LOVED!
After sorting out everything involved, we had morning tea in the staffroom with a few of the employees who entertained us with some interesting histories on the bikes and place in general.
We then visited the World of Wearable Arts & Classic Car Museum. I wasn’t particularly interested in the Wearable Arts, but the Car Museum was up my alley. Pulling up outside the building, we were presented with a very tidy Honda NSX. A good way to welcome guests to your collection.
We then spent the next couple of hours wandering through assortment of vehicles, before having the briefest of glances at the Wearable Arts.
An interesting piece of artwork down one of the corridors. Think I’d like a copy of this for the lounge at home!
The collection is housed in an old car assembly plant – the last manufacturer being Honda.
A lot of the time, it’s more about the history behind the car than the actual car itself. This was why I loved this 1930 Cadillac. At the time, this was a very extravagant vehicle. I’m sure the V-16 made the car perform relatively well, however, the sheer size of the car may have hampered this. It was brought by Jack Newman in 1933 and converted to right-hand drive before it was shipped to New Zealand. The car was used by the family for a number of years, before being used to ferry dignitaries around, and then was used to ferry tourists around. The car was sold by the Newmans in the 1940s and has had a very interesting life since. At one stage it was used as the school “bus” in the Waipukarau area!
Below is a picture of the back shed, which had cars crammed in. Not being part of the main collection, meant that they didn’t have any history written up.
Some of my favourites:
It was after two when we decided we better get a move on, stopping at a local dairy for sandwiches, pies & Diet Cokes. The weather outside was looking pretty miserable and I didn’t want to do another gorge in the dark with torrential downpour, especially since we had nearly 300 kilometers yet to travel.
About ten kilometers or so out of Greymouth, we took a stop to see the old Brunner Mine.
The mine was on the other side of Grey River, and was originally accessed by the suspension bridge (pictured above). I love these old suspension bridges, I remember going to see the Clifden one a couple of years ago when we were tripping in the Sierra – maybe I’ll do a recap of this old adventure on day. Amazing that these bridges were built long before trucks, cranes and powertools! Amazing engineering feats.
The Brunner Mine was originally a coal mine, which peaked production in mid 1880s. The main mine ended up closing in 1906 where they had worked the seam “practically to daylight”. There are still many mines in the area still producing though – my old Mk3 Mondeo Zetec was purchased new by one of the mines in the area and used by the manager.
In 1896 there was a massive disaster and 65 guys lost their lives. There was a statue erected and there are plaques around listing the people from neighbouring mines that have also lost their lives. Most recently being the Pike River disaster in 2010, when 29 miners lost their lives.
It was just after taking this photo that the rain started and we had to make a mad dash for the car. We cruised the remaining ten kilometers and checked into our Hotel for the night.
Stay tuned, part two coming soon!