NORTH CANTERBURY CLASSIC TOUR
The North Canterbury Classic Tour was held this year on Sunday, March 25. A well- established event on the classic vehicle calendar, its history goes back to 2003 when the inaugural Tour started at the Kaikanui Hotel in Kaiapoi, on March 2. That year, 78 entries were received, which was twice the number that the organizers were expecting.
The destination on that occasion was Karen James’ Holmwood Hill Gallery and Bob Bell’s classic collection in Kaikoura. The following year, entry numbers almost doubled to 148, and entries continued to grow each year, reaching to 252 in just five years. That year, the vehicles’ destination was Amberley House, which was, at the time, the home of the mayor and mayoress of the Hurunui District, Garry and Loretta Jackson.
Other destinations over the past 15 years have included Lake Coleridge; Waiau; a homestead at View Hill in Oxford; Saint Anne’s Lagoon in Cheviot; Gore Bay; Glentunnel; Hororata (where country and western singer John Grenell entertained participants at day’s end); Greta Valley; Peel Forest; Weka Pass Railway; Iron Ridge Quarry in the Waipara Valley; and many other small towns where a visit to local museums was included, such as Hawarden and Oxford.
From 2005 until 2013, the tour departed from the New Brighton Mall car park; however, owing to the badly damaged roads leading to New Brighton, the start point was brought in closer to the countryside visited. So, in more recent times, the March Classic Tour and the November Parkside Media Christmas Picnic outing have left from The Woodlands Cafe, SH1, Leithfield. This move has proved very popular with all, as the venue has 100-plus carparks, with registrations taken in the
dining room and the opportunity to have a cuppa before departing.
This year, as normal, we the organizers, did not let out too much information as to what the day entailed or the lunch venue, wishing to keep activities a surprise for all. All entrants received a free A3 colour poster incorporating 14 photos taken at last year’s lunch venue, Waiau School, plus a
New Zealand Classic Car magazine. While most, if not all, classic car events held in Christchurch are static displays, the All British Day and the North Canterbury Classic Tour are quite different, in that they entail a rally type of event, with drivers and navigators following instructions read from a route sheet. This year, departing from The Woodland’s Cafe, the route incorporated a scenic drive over the undulating roads through Ashley, Loburn, Glentui, and to Oxford, where 40 minutes or so was spent visiting the attractions there. Some bought from the local farmers market, before visiting the best country museum in Canterbury (well, that’s our opinion). But the big attraction was the 1950s-style American milk bar, Cruisy Days Diner, first opened on March 15, 2017. With its red, white, and chrome 1950s theme, visiting the place truly is like taking a step back in time. ( I could write a page on this immaculately presented milk bar / diner, but perhaps another time.)
Onwards we travelled to pass through View Hill and the Waimak Gorge, where many drove down to the river bed to watch while others took a ride in the V8-powered jetboats. Finally, we passed through the lovely little village of Waddington then on to SH73 to almost immediately turn right to follow Inland Scenic Route 72 to our destination and lunch venue, the Glentunnel Motor Camp.
The sun was shining brilliantly by this time, and, with 109 classic cars parked around the oval with a bush backdrop, the scene was the best we could wish for. Adding to the wonderful relaxed atmosphere were the coffee caravan, selling a great variety of drinks; an amazing range of Spanish food from Beatriz Gonzalez Garcia, and music from our busker Ross Nicol, who played and sung numbers from the late ’50s through to the ’ 70s — such as Take It Easy by The Eagles, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, and Slipping Away by Max Merritt. We were more than happy with our 16th North Canterbury Classic Tour.
The next outing, set for September 30, will be the Rural Ramble.