The Volkswagen Owners Club ( VWOC) started around 1960, and the Auckland branch was part of a federation of VW clubs in New Zealand — others being based in Taranaki, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The VWOC had about 300 active members by the late ’60s, and in Auckland held monthly club meetings in a large school hall in Epsom, with well over 100 people attending each month.
The early clubs were proper oldschool motoring clubs, attracting a new generation of motorists that had emerged in the post-war years. Events such as hill climbs, rallies, drag racing and time trials were often features of club events.
However club membership gradually dwindled over the years, and group activities became fewer, so in 1991 a core group of VWOC enthusiasts got together and organized the first VW Nationals, in Taupo, which was a resounding success. By that time people had become interested in old air-cooled VWS again, and were starting to restore them.
The tradition of the VW Nationals continues to this day — the club celebrated the 25th anniversary in 2015, with many of the original organizers in attendance. Nowadays the club has changed its focus to more family-oriented events — cruises, camping weekends, etc — instead of the motor-sport focus of the club’s earlier incarnation.
Monthly meetings remain a regular fixture on the calendar, taking place on the second Wednesday of each month at the Vintage Car Club rooms, 39 Fairfax Avenue, Penrose, Auckland, from 7pm.
The VWOC also hosts a number of its own events, such as the Spring Jamboree at which VWS take over the Watene reserve on Auckland’s waterfront for a day, or it joins with other clubs for annual events such as the Bulli and Bug Jam, at which VW owners enjoy a social weekend away camping, and Run to the Sun. The club caters for all types of Volkswagens across ranges and ages, from the early air-cooled Kombis and Beetles right through to the entire line-up of water-cooled examples. The focus is on people who share a passion for the marque, rather than the particular vehicle they own.