Six of the best motoring museums

Spin your wheels at these quirky tributes to the automobile.

Car on display during an open event at the Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu. Photo / Kapiti News
Car on display during an open event at the Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu. Photo / Kapiti News

1. World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum

You'll soon see the connection between a world-class collection of classic cars and wearable works at Nelson's top attraction. We daren't say say his 'n' hers museum, as the least petrol-headed person falls in love with the cars and the un-fashionista is wowed by the garment construction and design. Excellent cafe and shop, too.

Cadillac Way, off Quarantine Rd, Annesbrook, Nelson. Ph (03) 547 4573. Open daily (except Christmas Day ) 10am-5pm.

2. British Car Museum

The quirky address - Ian Hope's Back Yard - warns you are in the presence of one mad keen (in the nicest possible way) collector. There are 300 cars and trucks with names you'll recognise from the old days, including Austin, Jaguar, Bedford, Vauxhall and Morris Minor.

Add memorabilia such as car badges, numberplates and petrol pumps, models and toys. If you get bored with that, Ian also shows pianola and music drums.

Ian Hope's Back Yard Museum, 63 East Rd, Te Awanga, Hawkes Bay. Ph (06) 8750 561, 027 231 3916 or 027 231 3917. Open most days, but call first, 9am-4pm.

3. Southward Car Museum

The late Sir Len Southward's museum houses the Southern Hemisphere's largest private car collection, opened in 1979. It includes one of the first Model T Fords (Sir Len paid £40 in 1956), Marlene Dietrich's 1934 Cadillac Town Cabriolet, a 1915 Stutz Indianapolis race car, a gull-winged Mercedes-Benz and an 1895 Benz Velo.

Otaihanga Rd, Paraparaumu. Ph (04) 297 1221. Open daily 9am-4.30pm (closed Christmas Day).

4. Matthews' Vintage Collection

Lyn and Win Matthews have the personal touch with their sweet collection of vintage cars, tractors, farm equipment and workshop tools. They also have some lovely household memorabilia, and you can round out your visit with home-made baking in their cafe. A wee treasure.

Aurere, RD 3, 4365 State Highway 10, Kaitaia, Northland. Ph (09) 406 0203. Open daily, 9am-5pm.

5. Pete's Pioneer & Transport Museum

Volunteers keep this new little museum ticking over, with replica town buildings, pioneer fittings and a fleet of gleaming vintage and classic cars (including a 1914 Model T Ford). You can hire some of the cars. There's a cute Pete's Diner cafe, a Barry Crump collection and a small theatre showing heritage films. Pete will even play you a tune on the pianola and have a bit of a singalong. And there's home baking.

460 Kerikeri Rd, Kerikeri. Ph (09) 407 7618. Open daily, 10am-4pm or by appointment.

6. Firth Tower Reserve & Museum

The Firth Tower, built in 1882, is the centrepiece of a charming museum housed in 13 buildings. Head to the Firth Shed for vintage tractors and machinery, and the newly completed Mark Madill Shed, which walks you from post-European Maori agriculture to the early motorised machine age. Check out the open day with the Waikato Vintage Car Club (March 2).

266a Tower Rd, Matamata. Ph (07) 888 8369. Open Thurs-Mon, 10am-4pm.

- NZ Herald

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