New collection adds to city’s attractions

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NEWS that a third transport-themed attraction will open in Invercargill later this year is music to the ears of Southland’s tourism boss Warrick Low.
‘‘This is epic… The smile on my face is huge,’’ the Venture Southland tourism and events manager said.
‘‘One of Southland’s challenges is having all-day, all-year-round attractions [like this]. It also fits with the ingenuity of the south — people like Burt Munro and Bill Richardson.’’
On Monday, Jocelyn and Scott O’Donnell, who developed Bill Richardson Transport World, announced they had purchased Tom and Heather Sturgess’ New Zealand Classic Motorcycle collection of almost 300 motorcycles plus motorcycle-focused art.
They plan to house the collection in a separate building in Invercargill’s CBD.
Mr O’Donnell said they had spent ‘‘millions, but I’m not saying how many’’ on the world-class collection, which includes many rare bikes including a 1902 Peugeot and brands such as Ducati, Harley Davidson, Indian, Matchless, Rudge, Schwinn and Zundapp.
‘‘… I only saw the collection for the first time 10 days ago and was gobsmacked. Life is short and you have to grab these opportunities.’’
Mr O’Donnell said he and his wife believed the collection was a perfect complement to transport world and to Invercargill’s strong links with motorbikes through [world land speed record holder] Burt Munro and the annual Burt Munro Challenge.
‘‘The region is now home to three of the best wheeled attractions in the country —Transport World, E Hayes & Sons and [this]. Transport can be Invercargill’s tourism point of difference. It is up to us now to build on that with special events.’’
Mr O’Donnell said the display would likely be housed in either the old H&J Smith Outdoor World shop or the former nightclub building next door on Tay St, both owned by the Richardson Group, although the exact location had not been finalised.
Transport World was opened in December, building on the truck and transport memorabilia collected by Mrs O’Donnell’s late father, Bill Richardson. It has attracted 25,000 paying visitors to date.
Mr Low said the new attraction would cement Invercargill as a destination for tourists interested in transport, many of whom already made roads trips to experience the Southern Scenic Route or the Burt Munro Challenge.
‘‘The Burt Munro Challenge people will have to come a day or two earlier to fit it all in, and that is exactly what we want.’’
The acquisition was ‘‘great news’’, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said.
The O’Donnells were also to be congratulated for putting a huge investment into Invercargill without asking for a council contribution, he said.
Mr Shadbolt said having a motorcycle display on Tay St not only invigorated the CBD but strengthened links from the CBD to other visitor venues such as Ascot Park Hotel, the indoor stadium and velodrome, transport world, and Rugby Park.
He suggested the council could look at a low-cost or free bus connecting those facilities to support transport tourism.
Mr Shadbolt said tourists were looking for things to do in Invercargill and would not mind paying to see the motorcycle collection. Mr Low agreed.
‘‘People come here for many things — Milford Sound, Stewart Island, tuataras, scenery — and so much of that is free. But they don’t mind paying for a quality experience,’’ he said.
Mr Sturgess, a Nelson businessman, opened his collection to the public about 18 months ago but closed it the end of last month, saying since major cancer surgery last year he was ‘‘reorganising his priorities and goals’’.
His spokesman, Chris Jackson, said Mr Sturgess was absolutely delighted’’ the collection was being kept together in New Zealand.
‘‘The chances of that weren’t looking good, so to keep it together is quite a coup,’’ he said.

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