Millions of dollars of classic mainly 1970s rally cars, including up to 12 from overseas, are headed Hawke's Bay's way in a marathon set to roll back the years to the sport's heyday next week.
The eight-day Silver Fern Rally, based in the South Island in recent years, starts in Hamilton on Saturday and comes to Hawke's Bay for the first time since 2012 the following Thursday and Friday. It finishes the next day, on December 1.
By this week 37 entries had been received, including from the UK, South Africa and Australia. The oldest is a 1967 Ford Cortina Mk2 GT. Some are thought to be valued at over $100,000.
The rally will have special stages on rural roads east of Eketahuna on November 29, crews lunching at the old Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka, and will overnight at Havelock North, before heading for special stages in Northern Hawke's Bay on Waipunga, Old Mohaka Coach and Cricklewood Rds.
After a Friday lunch stop at Wairoa College the rally will head to Gisborne, including a special stage on Hereheretau Rd, near Whakaki, and the last stage run to the finish the next day will include famed rally challenge the Motu.
The staging of the rally back in the North Island comes with being taken over by Ultimate Rally Group (URG), which also stages the Targa Rally, which has been seen in Hawke's Bay almost annually in recent years.
URG media officer Paul Shanahan said it's designed to relive the heyday of rallying in New Zealand in the 1970s, amid a worldwide resurgence of classic and marathon rallies.