NZ Mini 50

One thing that stood out about the Mini 50 events that I attended was the variety; from indoor shows to vast outdoor events, social drives to almost formal dinners. From dozens of Minis to thousands, the common thread through them all was the desire of the owners to simply get together and celebrate their favourite car.

All over the world Mini clubs, as well as general Classic Car events, were gathering to stamp their name on the global dance card of the Mini’s birthday. From Canada to South Africa, Scotland to New Zealand, and Germany to the USA, clubs celebrated the Mini in some way or other, with each country adding its own unique flavour.

The Nelson Mini Car Club, located at the northern end of the South Island in New Zealand, wanted to do more than the usual one or two-day show, so decided to make the festivities last for a full week – covering the actual date of the anniversary of the public launch on 26 August.

A number of Mini owners from Queensland made the trek over for the latter part of the week, and our English tour (see p64) was finished early enough for me to make it over for five days.

Most of the focus for the week was on touring and socialising – getting out and about in the Minis and enjoying them on the sorts of roads for which they became famous, then finishing with social drinks or a movie.

Each weekday began with a cruise to another local scenic delight, travelling through high mountain passes, along winding coastal roads, or following meandering river valleys. These all began from the coolstores of the local fruit growers’ association (ENZA), which had provided a vast under-cover space for running the event.

The weather was fickle, bringing low cloud, showers and freezing winds one day, then bright blue skies, warm sunshine and cool breezes the next, then back to drizzle and fog, and so-on.

But we weren’t about to let the weather bother us. With ever-increasing numbers, the tours continued, we met new friends and caught up with those we already knew, and saw new scenic wonders every day.

I travelled with a different driver on each of the four runs I did. Thanks to Brent Collins, Jai Monaghan, Al Brass and Richard Johnston for putting up with me.

Tuesday’s run over Marble Mountain (Takaka Hill) was on a great Mini-friendly road, but the weather prevented it from being enjoyed to the full.

However, at Takaka we were delighted to visit a local private collection of military memorabilia, cars, motorbikes and other paraphernalia. There was also a flat-four aero engine, complete with short propeller, that the owner, Paul Sangster, was happy to start up for us. It was very impressive with the flames shooting out of the un-silenced exhausts.

Wednesday’s run to Marahau, gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park, was in perfect sunshine, and seeing around 100 Minis lined up along the coast in the township was tremendous.

Thursday’s run to Nelson Lakes National Park was freezing cold, and the morning stop beside the lake would have been pretty miserable, had we not been with a huge group of like-minded Mini enthusiasts. Still, after standing around and freezing for half an hour or so, it was time to head back to Nelson.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 21 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>30</plumshop> <plumshop>29</plumshop>

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