Costs could kill monkey
Popular polar motorcycle rally under threat
One of the biggest events on the motorcycle calendar – and most popular – is under threat due to rising costs.
The 35th Brass Monkey Rally was held at Oturehua in Central Otago at the weekend attracting about 1500 riders.
Committee member John Willems, one of the rally founders, said while the event was popular and organisers had had positive feedback from participants the rally’s future was uncertain because of rising costs to hold it.
‘‘There has been talk as to whether there is going to be a Brass Monkey next year. It was mentioned a few times over the weekend and even at night it was mentioned over the loud speaker.
‘‘We got some positive feedback but it will be a decision the Otago Motorcycle Club will have to make over the next few months. It’s something we would negotiate with the landowner and Oturehua community. It’s not a decision that will be made lightly.’’
Rising costs to hold the event had become an issue for organisers, he said.
‘‘I would be lying if I said it wasn’t an issue. The liquor licence permit has gone up significantly and we hired security guards on the Saturday night which cost several thousand. (The security guards) help get the licence . . . but we didn’t need them. There were absolutely no incidents. In fact, one guard said what a great event it was and said, ‘I might buy a motorbike and come along next year’.’’
The event typically draws large numbers of riders keen for the challenge of the coldest rally in the country during winter.
At the weekend, the overnight frost was -9 degrees Celsius. The bikers, sleeping in tents, braved snow, frost and rain, but the sun also came out, he said.
A highlight was the fireworks display which locals drove up to watch too, he said.
Rub Blank of Rangiora had ridden to Central Otago with Christchurch mates Johnny Foot and Ian Liptrot. It was his 23rd Brass Monkey Rally.
‘‘We’re here for a good yarn, tell a few lies, have a few beers. I was here one year when it was -18. That was pretty savage. My contact lenses were freezing inside the water in the tent. It’s things like that, that make it. It’s good to have a story to tell. It’s a lot of fun.’’
Christchurch friends Malcolm Baird and Geoff Dunwoodie said they had been doing the rally for so long (32 and 34 years respectively) it had become a challenge to see how long they could keep doing it.
‘‘We might still be here as long it’s going. We have to get to 40,’’ Dunwoodie said.
Winton’s Graeme Lowen, at his 33rd rally, said it was an ‘‘addiction’’.
‘‘I have to go regardless. It’s a habit and hobby, and way to de-stress from work.’’
Willems said people came from around the country and overseas for the event.
‘‘It is a challenge. When I was riding up here yesterday my temperature gage was 5 degrees. I thought – this is my last one but then you look around – it’s a nice place.
‘‘There is something about this area. We work closely with the Oturehua community. If we didn’t have their support we couldn’t run something like this.
‘‘The first rally attracted 300 riders which had grown each year. One year 5000 bikers turned up, he said.
‘‘I think the motorbike is a great leveller. You don’t know what a person is – there are lawyers, doctors, plumbers, unemployed people – anyone can ride a motorbike.
‘‘We even have families coming up here.’’ 2MinuteMen MomentsWeMake Change AboutMoments
Hundreds of bikers braved the cold at Oturehua, Central Otago, for the 35th Brass Monkey Rally.
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Wanaka: July 3-7: Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka. Cromwell: July 8: Golden Gate Lodge, Cromwell. 7.30pm start. Includes (USA) (NZ), Best NZ Made Film.
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More info: mountainfilm.net.nz.
Brass Monkey Rally rider Gus Lindsay of Cromwell gets a badge going through the gates to the 35th rally held on private farmland at Oturehua, Central Otago at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
Photos: Jo McKenzie-McLean