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75 things every Kiwi car person should do before they die: part one

10 November 2015


For a small country, we’ve got not only an amazing number of cars, but also an amazing amount of things we can do with them. In part one, we take a look at the top places we think everyone should visit, before it’s too late.

If you think we’ve missed anything out, make sure to let us know — email

Places to visit

1. Packard and Pioneer Museum — Whangarei

One man’s lifetime of collecting has resulted in the largest collection of Packards in the world. Add to this over 100 vintage motorbikes, assorted old earthmoving equipment, trains, trucks, fire engines, guns, and more, and you’ve got a collection well worth visiting. Be sure to make an appointment first.

2. Puhoi Pub — Puhoi

Just north of Auckland, the Puhoi Pub is a Mecca for car enthusiasts over the summer months. At any given stage, the car park will be full of a mix of European exotics, classic American muscle, and motorbikes. If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind a few kilometres of gravel road, head back to Auckland by following the road up past the pub — there are plenty of neat roads, and it avoids the toll road too!

3. Bunce Motor Company — Auckland

Bunce’s have cemented themselves as the place to go for late-model American pickups and SUVs. Besides offering vehicles for sale, they also perform conversions, so try and get a look out the back to see the huge amount of work involved in changing the handlebars over.

4. Motat (Museum Of Transport And Technology) — Auckland

Motat consists of two separate locations, accessible by a tram; one is dedicated to aircraft and the other to cars, motorbikes, and the ever-changing displays of local history. There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained, including tank rides, pony rides, a mirror maze, and the dedicated education centre. Best enjoyed on a dry day.

5. Western Springs — Auckland

Situated beside the Auckland Zoo and a nature reserve, Western Springs is home to Western Springs WXC Speedway. Many legendary drivers have cut laps on the quarter-mile clay oval and the banks are steeped in history. Beginner’s tip: expect to get dirty — don’t wear your Sunday best.

6. Gordon McIsaac’s Speedway Museum — Auckland

It may not look like much from the outside, but inside you’ll find the largest collection of speedway memorabilia anywhere in the world. With countless autographed items, and plenty with historical significance from here and abroad, make sure to dedicate a few hours to looking around. By appointment only.

7. Bruce McLaren Museum — Auckland

Kiwi Motoring legends don’t get more iconic than Bruce McLaren. Thanks to the McLaren Trust’s efforts in setting up the Bruce McLaren Museum, you can check out his journey from a kid with a dream, to an internationally recognized name. The Museum is located in the historically listed building where plenty of Bruce’s cars were worked on. Open Monday to Friday from 10am–4pm, or by appointment only.

8. Pukekohe Park Raceway — Pukekohe

New Zealand’s original home of motorsport, and home of the V8 Supercars, every Kiwi should pay a visit to the legendary Pukekohe Park Raceway at least once. While the track may have changed in recent times, its character hasn’t. 

9. Meremere Dragway — Meremere

New Zealand’s original purpose-built, dedicated drag strip. The bigger meets are always the best, so if you’ve never seen drag racing up close before, make sure to head along to one. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the earmuffs for the kids.

10. Hampton Downs Motorsport Park — North Waikato

Just down the road from Meremere is the impressive 2.6km–long Hampton Downs circuit. Home to events such as the Festival of Motor Racing and V8 SuperTourer rounds, the track has many great viewing points as well as the largest skid pad in the country. For the best views of the whole track, get yourself up into one of the trackside apartments.

11. 4 Guys AutoBarn — Hamilton

If you love late-model American muscle, make sure to stop at 4 Guys the next time you’re passing through Hamilton. From Corvettes to Cadillacs, Challengers to Camaros, there’s usually around 30 or so American cars looking for a place to call home. Don’t forget the chequebook.

12. Classics Museum — Hamilton

New Zealand’s newest dedicated car museum has more memorabilia than any other. An ever-changing array of around 100 vehicles makes return trips worthwhile, and the food from the adjoining Jukebox Diner is worth the trip alone. A great destination for car clubs to cruise to.

13. Retro America — Tauranga

A combination of businesses all-in-one, with a retail shop, American-style barber, and even an on-site tattoo parlour. With the owners making regular trips to America to bring back treasures, the stock is always revolving and includes many rare and hard to find items; perfect for the memorabilia collector.

14. Horopito Motors — Horopito

Made famous by the Kiwi cult movie Smash Palace, Horopito Motors is a wrecking yard like no other. With vehicles from the 1920s to the 1970s, there are acres of rusting treasures. The original owner Bill Cole’s philosophy was that if a car for dismantling came into the yard, any parts not sold would stay there. Nothing was scrapped, which explains the vast collection of parts that are there today.

15. The Rush Collection — Feilding

Open by appointment only, the Rush Collection includes a handful of Formula 5000s amongst other vehicles. The Rush family’s involvement with motor sport has seen various pieces of memorabilia collected over the years, meaning there’s plenty to see. A great location for a car club outing.

16. Coach House Museum — Feilding

The Coach House Museum is home to a large collection of New Zealand’s heritage, including many restored historic vehicles, items of farm equipment and machinery, and settler lifestyle displays from the horse-drawn era and beyond. It’s as good for the kids as it is for those who are still kids at heart.

17. Kruzin Kustoms — Palmerston North

Kruzin Kustoms is a one-stop hot rod shop, able to supply parts and offer full builds. At any given time the workshop has something interesting to look at, and the showroom is always packed with the latest parts and merchandise. 

18. Southwards Car Museum — Paraparaumu

The largest private car collection in the Southern Hemisphere houses over 400 cars and motorbikes, as well as a range of vintage tools and memorabilia. While the cars are mainly vintage, there are some historically significant local cars and plenty to keep the kids entertained too. Pencil in half a day.

19. Wow Museum (World Of Wearable Art & Classic Cars) — Nelson

This private collection includes plenty of American vehicles, as well as a wide range of vintage cars all in restored condition. The on-site café makes it the perfect stop off while passing through. Better still, the ladies can check out the fashion while you check out the cars.

20. Moorhouse Muscle Cars — Christchurch

At any point in time, there are usually around 30 or so American vehicles on display at New Zealand’s largest muscle car yard. The stock is always changing, so make sure to check back in for a look any time you’re passing through Christchurch. They accept trade-ins too …

21. Yaldhurst Museum — Christchurch

With over 150 cars on display, many with New Zealand history, Yaldhurst Museum has something for everyone. They have plenty of European cars and horse drawn vehicles, but enough other stuff to keep V8-heads satisfied as well. 

22. The Stewart Collection — Christchurch

Featuring cars from the early 1900s to the ’90s, the Stewart Collection has a wide range of vehicles of all different makes and models. Open by appointment only to groups, the $10 entry fee is well worth it. Plus, it’s close to Christchurch Airport — something to do before or after your flight!

23. National Transport and Toy Museum — Wanaka

Kids, young and old, will be amazed with the collection of 50,000 toys. The transport collection boasts around 600 rare and unusual vehicles including aircraft, cars, trucks, motorcycles, fire appliances, military vehicles and tractors. While none are particularly amazing on their own, the collection as a whole is great.

24. Highlands Motorsport Park — Cromwell

New Zealand’s latest and most impressive motor racing circuit offers the chance for quick laps in the ‘Highlands Taxi’, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The 4.5km–long track can be split to offer three separate circuits as well as a go-kart track, plus there’s the National Motorsport Museum and a restaurant/café. 

25. Highlands National Motorsport Museum — Cromwell

The National Motorsport Museum has been set up to ensure the history of local motor sport is not forgotten. The ever-changing, high-quality displays include historically significant vehicles, and there’s also a large reference library. Make sure to check out the racetrack while you’re there, and grab a bite at the café too.

26. Bill Richardson Truck Museum — Invercargill

Presently home to 230 trucks and 150 petrol bowsers, the Bill Richardson Truck Museum is one of New Zealand’s hidden gems. With trucks from all decades and of all types, big and small, it’s an impressive sight. Rumour has it, there’s a new major addition coming shortly, which will make it even more of a ‘must-see’. Open by appointment only.

27. E Hayes & Sons — Invercargill

The home of Burt Munro, this is a hardware store with a difference. With a few cars, plenty of motorbikes, memorabilia, and a large collection of ‘offerings to the gods of speed’ (ie. broken parts) on display, plus merchandise for sale, it’s definitely worth a look.

Our next instalment of 75 must-do things takes a look at roads you must drive. 

To see part two and part three of the 75 things every Kiwi car person should do before they die, choose your path below:

The 75 must-do things was published in NZV8 Issue No. 102. You can grab a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: