In 1961, a young Kiwi couple bought a new Volkswagen Beetle in London for 439 and set off on an adventure across Europe, through communist countries, the Middle East and into the Asian subcontinent.

Beth and Ivan Hodge shipped the car back to New Zealand from Calcutta. For a some years it was owned by Mr Hodge's parents in Levin where his father was a police officer.

The Hodges, now in their 80s, drove that same car into Marton on Friday as part of a farewell tour before the Beetle was donated to Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

"Ivan's mother grew up in Marton, so we have included it on the tour, and we will stop in at the Levin police station and hopefully have a cup of tea there," said Mrs Hodge.

Advertisement

The Beetle was shipped back to England in 1996 when the Hodges decided to retrace their earlier journey as a "second honeymoon" trip.

Mr Hodge said the couple could not bear to see the car end its days in a wrecker's yard like so many other old Volkswagens.

"After seeing many wrecked and rusting cars, I thought our Beetle is too important to us to end up like that.

"Our Beetle has travelled the world and lived an exciting life. To end up in a wrecking yard would just be terrible so we turned to MOTAT," he said.

Asked why they chose a Beetle rather than a Kombi van to travel in, Mrs Hodge said it was the cost.

"We were young and we didn't mind roughing it so we budgeted to spend 1 each day on ourselves and 1 on the car and we pretty much stuck to it."

Volkswagen NZ is sponsoring this final road trip for the Hodges and general manager Tom Ruddenklau said the company was proud to do so.

"They are a fantastic couple, who have seen and done so much in their Beetle, and they are always giving back to the community."

Advertisement

The tour will end at MOTAT on March 28 and the museum's chief executive Michael Frawley said he is honoured to accept custody of the well-travelled car.

"This vehicle has become a symbol of endurance, dependability, loyalty and innovation.

"We intend to relay these noble qualities on to our visitors by showcasing the VW Beetle at MOTAT and inspiring them to become like the Hodges - true trailblazers."

The Hodges documented their 1961 and 1996 adventures in their book For Love and a Beetle, published in 2000.

They now live in Sydney but say they still consider New Zealand home.