THUNDERBIRDS ROD AND CUSTOM CLUB NZ TOUR 2018

We as a club visited the North Island back in 2002 and attended the 30th Street Rod Nationals in Wanganui. As part of this trip we met up with a lot of rodders from the North Island along the way.

It was decided that it was time we visited the South Island, so we set about planning for February 2018 to attend the Pre ‘49 Nationals. Unfortunately this event was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

‘Plan B’ was then prepared! I made contact with Mark Stead and his partner Tanya from Big Shed Customs in Blenheim and they really got involved in our trip.

Thirty one of us, including members from Jadis Rod & Custom Club as well as a couple from Eastern Valley Street Rodders, left on 13th February flying into Wellington where we were met by our coach driver who chauffeured us for the next fifteen days.

The following day we went to the Southward Car Museum at Paraparaumu. Set on a scenic six hectares of park-like grounds, it houses 400 plus vehicles and memorabilia in a 6,000 square metre exhibition hall, what a magnificent display.

After spending another night in Wellington, we boarded the Interislander Ferry for a beautiful smooth crossing to Picton on the South Island, some call this the mainland! So to Blenheim and the beginning of Plan B.

Mark and Tanya had arranged for us to spend a day at Big Shed Customs, providing a fabulous morning tea and BBQ lunch for the guys. The ladies were taken by Tanya on a wonderful day of gardens, a magnificent winery luncheon, shopping and even a chocolaterie. On our second night in Blenheim, Mark and Tanya had organized for us to have a  private room at the RSL with members from the Sun Valley Roadsters joining us. A great night was had by all!

After emailing Mark initially and telling him of our itinerary, he had sent it off to the clubs that we would be coming across in our travels. Five clubs then proceeded to make contact with me before we left Australia, all keen to catch up with us when we arrived in their towns.

On saying our farewells, we headed off to Nelson. After booking into our hotel the members from the Cambusters Rod and Custom Club turned up in their cars. A great evening developed over a few quiet drinks with good street food and a lot of story telling. While in Nelson we visited the World of Wearable Art and Collectable Cars. This was an amazing place to visit, not to be missed!

After an early start we headed over to Westport, following the Buller River, through the spectacular Buller Gorge. We joined with the Buller Rodders for lunch that they organized for us and helped them celebrate their 40th Anniversary. One couple from their club, Ash and Maree Oldham, had come over to the attend the Geelong Nationals in 2003 and it was great to meet up with them again.

Onward to Greymouth for the night where we caught up with Don and Colleen and their 1936 Ford Tudor and Michael with his ‘40 Ford Pickup. How’s this for looking after visitors!

The next morning Michael organized a mini bus belonging to one of their members to take guys to Dutchies Garage, 10kms out of town. What a treat to see Ford coupes ranging from 1930 through to 1947, two thirds of which were hot rodded. What a collection for one man to own! That afternoon we travelled to Arthur’s Pass and caught the Tranz Alpine train to Christchurch. This was a magnificent journey through some spectacular landscapes.

After our night in Christchurch, we headed South to Dunedin for a night and then on to Invercargill. Our first stop in Invercargill was at the E. Hayes Motorworks Collection to view the famous Burt Munro’s legendary, record breaking ‘World’s Fastest Indian’ motorbike. Next stop was to the Bill Richardson Transport World. This museum takes up one full city block with over 500 vehicles and mountains of memorabilia. This is one outstanding museum and a must to see.

Now off to Milford Sound through the Homer tunnel. Here on a magnificent day with snow capped mountains all around, we cruised the sound past Mitre Peak and out to the Tasman Sea and return. What an amazing day!

The next three days we are in Queenstown to relax. One evening we went on the coal fired 1912 vintage steamer, The TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a delicious gourmet BBQ dinner, all you could eat…no chops and sausages here! We visited Arrowtown, saw bungy jumpers, one of our members even went on the Flying Fox and some rode the gondola to the top, a few members choosing to ride the Luge, great fun. As you would we called in to the Gippston Valley Winery Cave only to find that the owner has a hot rodded 1959 Chevy Pickup. Wine was good also!

Now time to head to Wanaka and on the way stopping at Cromwell, the home of the Highlands National Motorsport Museum. Continuing on to Wanaka where on arrival we visited the classic car attraction at the Warbirds and Wheels, showcasing world class collection of over thirty privately owned classic cars and motorcycles plus aircraft.

The following morning we headed back to Christchurch and toured around the city. It is good to see that building is taking place after such a devastating earthquake, however there is a lot still to be done. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch up with the Rodbenders Club in Christchurch as their meeting was the week before.

We had a goodbye to New Zealand dinner with lots of laughs, drinks and good food. A fun night was had by all, including our driver who did a top job putting up with all of us!

Each one of us on the trip came to the same conclusion that the museums were of such a high standard that it was too hard to pick which one was the best. A big thank you goes out to all the NZ Rodders, their partners and the friendly people we met along the way.

As a club we highly recommend to other clubs that you get together and make the trip across the ditch!

Dennis & Karen-Anne Jones