The Burt Munro Challenge is what you make it. Camp at the rally site (the Saturday night party goes good), book a motel or a hotel, or a luxury B&B. Whatever spins your wheels. Likewise with the events. Design your own good time.
Bluff’s Hill Climb is a visceral experience. Tensions are high. The smell of the exhaust, the scream of the engines, the heat of the machines as they rush past. Spectators will riders on as they wrench and weave their way to the summit. Most make it. Later in your day, marvel at the sight of twilight drag racers streaking down the Teretonga Park straight at speeds in excess of 250kph.
Stepping on to Oreti Beach’s long emptiness, where Burt once opened the throttle, is a raw and awe inspiring experience. There’s something otherworldly watching dirt bikes tear up and down the mile-long circuit from your sand-dune grandstand possie, as oystercatchers split open tuatua shells on the low-tide mark. Unique? You betcha.
Teretonga Park has hosted Superbike, V8 and Formula 1 legends, and now it’s your turn. You can have a crack at the Have-a-Go Day or register for the Saturday sprint races. There’re few experiences that come near the G-Force thrill of a lap or two of the world’s southernmost FIA-approved motor racing circuit. Those participating in the traditional Saturday night Speedway Spectacular might argue that point as their brakeless bikes slide around in the dirt – delighting the huge crowds surrounding the circuit.
Crowds throng to the Sunday street races, which showcase all manner of bikes from highly tuned, modern racing machines to lovingly restored vintage gems.
But the Burt Munro Challenge is as much about people as it is about bikes. Conversation starters are parked up row on row. Camaraderie is forged through shared experiences – stories of the journey south, of highways, byways and back roads discovered.
And stories of wandering the aisles of a family-owned hardware store from a bygone era. Where you can almost imagine Burt, stomping past, scouring the rows for parts.
E Hayes and Sons is half hardware store, half museum. Its centrepiece is Burt’s original 1920 Indian Scout racing bike, which takes pride of place among a world-class display of classic, vintage and modern motorcycles, automobiles, engines and memorabilia.
You’ll need to sit down afterwards. Grab a seat at a cafe or bar, and soak up the bass-like throbs and purrs as bikes rumble around the streets.
You’ll never feel closer to a legend. The Burt Munro Challenge is calling you.