SUMMER SPECIAL: Wellington and Southward bound
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For many Kiwis looking for a great, big road trip, the journey to Wellington is a great one. Starting in Auckland, for example, the adventure can be taken by train, which delivers passengers right into the heart of the city - and not far from the Beehive, in a city that’s relatively easy to get around.
It’s a scenic route down the North Island, by road, plane or train, and we’re car people, so to us the drive is half the fun.
An eight-hour drive from the heart of Auckland CBD, the fastest way to Wellington is on State Highway 1, passing through the scenic Desert Road - but there are numerous options and waypoints, too: via Taupo and Palmerston North for small diversions, down the West Coast via New Plymouth, or via the east coast and Napier/Hastings, or take a different way back.
Whichever way to take and whichever method of transport, a must-see before arriving into Wellington is the Southward Car Museum. Situated 50km north of Wellington (so still accessible once arrived in the capital), and just a few minutes off the motorway, Southward is an amazing look into the history of motor vehicles.
Designed and built by the late Sir Len Southward, this customised facility houses the southern hemisphere’s largest private car collection.
Entering the grounds is an event in itself, through the regal gates and groomed grounds with plenty of parking and a feeling that you’re arrived somewhere special.
And you have, as through the doors are more than 400 cars and motorbikes and exhibits on display, often changing, covering the history of transport and how this unique collection came to be.
Across three levels, including the main floor, mezzanine where the majority of motorcycles are located, and the lower floor, it’s very easy to spend a few hours or more at the Southward Motor Museum.
Highlights are many, but include a 1916 Ford Model T, Ariel Atom, Plymouth Prowler, DMC DeLorean, a Japanese display with an R32 Skyline GT-R, Makinen Evo VI, Supra, NSX and Mitsubishi GTO. There’s an original Escort, VL Commodore, Suzuki RE5 rotary bike, NSU Ro80, Porsches, Ferraris, vintage, classics, modern, historical… the list goes on, including the famous/infamous 1950 Cadillac ‘gangster’ car, associated with Al Capone, still with bullet holes.
There is also an on-site coffee and souvenir shop and if the weather is kind, the expansive grounds are a great place to relax and have a family picnic.
Run by a charitable trust, Southward Motor Museum must be seen to be fully appreciated and with events held there regularly – Cars & Coffee every second Sunday until March – it’s truly a place not to be missed on any trip remotely close to Wellington.