Editor at large Shayne Currie is on a two-week road trip, to gauge the mood of the nation and meet everyday and notable Kiwis making a difference in their communities and wider world. Today he meets the leader of an extraordinary family business being driven by 18 simple rules from an earlier era. Today’s Nine Questions With... column is with Ngāi Tahu CEO Arihia Bennett. Here’s how the Invercargill to Queenstown leg unfolded.
Sound the 1923 bulb horn! We’ve uncovered an early contender for best attraction on The Great New Zealand Road Trip. It’s also, perhaps, one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.
Admittedly, family and friends had told me Bill Richardson Transport World, spread out in an expansive Art Deco building stretching across a massive block in Invercargill, was a world-class showcase. I hesitate to call it a museum - in some places, it’s like you’re back strolling through the streets of 1930, so authentic is the experience.
Until the sliding doors opened and I walked into the main hall, I had little clue. Until you’re on-site and greeted by a fleet of lovingly restored VWs and Fords - only the Model B is missing from a long line of “letter” Fords - and a host of other vintage and classic vehicles, the scale of the operation can’t be truly appreciated.
World-class is an understatement. The place is mind-blowing.
Bill Richardson’s dream, sparked by a ride as a 6-year-old in a 1949 Ford five-tonner, has morphed into the biggest private automotive collection of its kind in the world.
Richardson died in 2005, but his dream of maintaining, building and presenting his collection was picked up by his daughter Jocelyn (Joc) O’Donnell, a massive VW fan.
Bill Richardson Transport World opened in 2015.
“The collection is home to more than 300 classic vehicles, including a display of Ford letter cars, 1930s V8s, pastel-perfect mid-century convertibles, a retro collection of Volkswagen Kombis, trucks of every make and model, and Bill’s pride and joy – a restored 1940 Dodge Airflow tanker, gleaming in Texaco red,” says the business.
I was there for two hours; you could spend an entire day, or even a weekend, there.
Shayne Currie is travelling the country on the Herald’s Great New Zealand Road Trip. Read the full series here.
After charging the all-electric VW ID.5 to about 70 per cent capacity at Southern Automobiles Volkswagen in Invercargill and enjoying a cheese roll with the NZME team in Gore, I strolled across the road to the Sgt Dan Stockfoods Ltd factory, where managing director Daryl Moyles has just received back from Christchurch his own automotive pride and joy, a red Austin Mini Cooper, refurbished and overhauled.
Its condition reflects his own state of mind, as he scrawls ‘Positive’ on the Road Trip mood board.
Moyles’ business delivers between 22,000 and 25,000 tonnes of calf and dairy feed a year to the local region. While times have been somewhat tough in the rural community over the past 12 months, he is preparing for up to 50 per cent more capacity next year.
And, of course, stock feed plays a critical role in our sustainability solution. A mix of stock feed and grass means we can get the cows producing more milk, therefore needing less grass and fewer cows, helping farmers with their emissions targets.
“Apart from the rugby, people are pretty positive,” says Moyles.
With the VW ID.5 at about 20 per cent capacity, I stopped at the tiny settlement of Athol - a fishing and hunting hotspot on the banks of the Mataura River and hometown of 1957 All Black Ack Soper, as a billboard on SH6 proudly reads - to juice the all-electric car back to 80 per cent.
That’s good for another 340km, or so, and certainly enough for the 55km it took to get to Queenstown, via Kingston, and sweeping around the ‘Devil’s Staircase’ and shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown was abuzz on Tuesday night, with plenty of tourists in the pubs and restaurants.
Today, the Road Trip heads to my hometown of Timaru in what will be the biggest tests and longest travelling distances for the ID.5. I’m also meeting a very special person along the way - full details tomorrow.
- Editor-at-Large Shayne Currie is one of New Zealand’s most experienced senior journalists and media leaders. He has held executive and senior editorial roles at NZME including Managing Editor, NZ Herald Editor and Herald on Sunday Editor. As well as a weekly media column, he has a regular interview series featuring noteworthy and leading New Zealanders including Wayne Brown, Ruby Tui, Paddy Gower, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Scotty Stevenson, Chlöe Swarbrick, Simon Power, Josh and Helen Emett, Sir Ian Taylor, David Kirk, Sir Ashley Bloomfield, Paul Henry, Hannah and Brian Tamaki, Sophie Moloney and Simon Barnett. Contact Shayne at email@example.com