From the editor
As I write this I’m just back from a whistlestop trip to Invercargill and environs and can I just say from the outset what a pleasure it was to be there. Flying in and out of Queenstown, and staying a night either side in Arrowtown obviously helped. But as I discovered when I spent a day in the city itself, Invercargill now has attractions of its own to draw – and hold – visitors. The obvious one is ‘ the Truck Museum,’ opposite Stadium Southland on Tay St. The brainchild and lasting legacy of local truck industry legend Bill Richardson ( and now officially called Bill Richardson Transport World) the museum is an absolute treasure-trove of the ordinary ( boyhood friend Brian Tressider’s family farm truck) and the extraordinary ( the only remaining streamliner-style 1940 Dodge RX70 petrol tanker left in the world). I first visited the museum when Bill was still alive ( he died in 2015). At that point it was arguably Invercargill ( if not New Zealand’s) best kept secret. For no better reason than it was not open to the public (as such) and Bill actively eschewed publicity. While he was only too happy to show community and enthusiast groups around he made it clear ( in the nicest most diplomatic way possible) that he didn’t want us journos ( flown in by the city’s marketing people to publicise the region’s unique car culture) writing anything about it. His sudden death, at just 65 years of age, rocked the family, and it would be fair to say, the close-knit Invercargill business community, to the core. But after a suitable period of mourning, reflexion and planning Bill’s daughter Jocelyn stepped up to the plate with an ambitious plan to not only maintain, but expand the museum in honour of her father. The result is a facility – now fronted by a gorgeous Art Deco-style façade – cities 10 times the size of Invercargill ( pop 50,000) would be proud of. Under Jocelyn and husband Scott O’Donnell’s benign direction the ‘ truck museum ‘ is now so much more. The name Transport World goes some way to describe the changes which have included the addition of vintage cars, and a mezzanine floor of Wearable Art gowns. These days, in fact, there is literally a surprise at every turn. Between two packed truck ‘galleries’ for instance, was a line-up of Volkswagen Kombie vans. Alongside another was a ‘sort of’ human-size diorama chronicling the recent remake of the classic Kiwi movie, Goodbye Pork Pie ( which, memorably, ended – with a bang – in Invercargill). Then at the western end of the same section was a Ford ‘showroom’ with a large TV screen, some chairs and some classic British Pathe-style motorsport films from the ‘ 50s, 60s and 70s playing in a constant loop. Seriously, I could have stayed there for hours! It’s funny, too. When I posted a mix of photos on my Facebook page, the one which received the most feedback was of an old ‘wringer’ washing machine which, along with all sorts of other humble domestic appliances ( like the gorgeous forest green Morrison roller lawn mower my Dad coveted back in the day) was on display in another mezzanine at the back of the cavernous building. Buoyed by the response from the general and travelling public to the revamp of ‘ the Truck Museum’ the O’Donnells have since added a standalone motorcycle museum ( Classic Motorcycle Mecca) in a building at the city end of Tay St, as well as New Zealand’s first self- drive excavator/ bulldozer and skid-steer loader experience, Dig This, on the outskirts of the city. It still costs an arm and a leg to fly in and out of the city from points north, but now, at least, there is a reason ( several actually) to go and stay at least two or three nights, rather than simply pass through on the way to Fiordland or Stewart Island.