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New Zealand Classic

15 February – 8 March 2020

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New Zealand Classic 2020

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15 February – 8 March 2020

A small country with an enormous heart, New Zealand is a land like no other.  ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ is famed for a breathtaking and often unique landscape, rich cultural heritage, top-notch wines, fabulous cities, hospitable locals and world-famous sporting history.

Alongside rugby, cricket, watersports and winter sports, motorsport pulses strongly through New Zealand’s veins and we’re hugely excited to be adding the ERA New Zealand Classic to the events calendar from 15 February to 8 March 2020.

Tell Me More

To find out more please call Annette, Eleonora or any of the Rally Office team or email us for your copy of the event brochure and entry form. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and offer any guidance you may need.

Phone:   +44 (0)1235 831221

Email:   [email protected]

Numbered Entry List

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Last Updated 30/01/2020

NZC Entry List - 30.1.2020


If you have any questions or you spot any wrong information on the above entry list, please don’t hesitate to call Annette, Eleonora or any of the Rally Office team. You can also email us on the address below. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and offer any guidance you may need.

Phone:   +44 (0)1235 831221

Email:   [email protected]

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New Zealand Classic 2020

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The Route

Clerk of the Course Mark Appleton and Deputy George Mullins spent March in New Zealand surveying over 10,000km of possible routes, checking hotels and rest halts, drinking coffee and generally making arrangements for next February’s event. Shown below is an outline of the route that they have designed.  Many of the arrangements are still subject to final confirmation so some of the detail may change before the time of the event.

New Zealand Classic 2020 – Itinerary

Day Weekday Date From To Distance
1 Saturday 15/02/2020 Auckland Whangarei 265 Km
2 Sunday 16/02/2020 Whangarei Russell 390 Km
3 Monday 17/02/2020 Russell Auckland 337 Km
4 Tuesday 18/02/2020 Auckland Rotoura 420 Km
5 Wednesday 19/02/2020 Rotoura Gisborne 333 Km
6 Thursday 20/02/2020 Gisborne Taupo 420 Km
7 Friday 21/02/2020 Rest Day - Taupo 0
8 Saturday 22/02/2020 Taupo Whakapapa 404 Km
9 Sunday 23/02/2020 Whakapapa Palmerston North 310 Km
10 Monday 24/02/2020 Palmerston North Wellington 333 Km
11 Tuesday 25/02/2020 Wellington Blenheim 32 Km
12 Wednesday 26/02/2020 Blenheim Hanmer Springs 202 Km
13 Thursday 27/02/2020 Hanmer Springs Nelson 334 Km
14 Friday 28/02/2020 Nelson Hokitika 471 Km
15 Saturday 29/02/2020 Hokitika Fox Glacier 284 Km
16 Sunday 01/03/2020 Fox Glacier Queenstown 414 Km
17 Monday 02/03/2020 Rest Day - Queenstown 0
18 Tuesday 03/03/2020 Queenstown Milford Sound 437 Km
19 Wednesday 04/03/2020 Milford Sound Invercargill 390 Km
20 Thursday 05/03/2020 Invercargill Dunedin 385 Km
21 Friday 06/03/2020 Rest Day - Dunedin 0
22 Saturday 07/03/2020 Dunedin Lake Tekapo 313 Km
23 Sunday 08/03/2020 Lake Tekapo Christchurch 313 Km

Overview

The final route for the rally will come in at a little over 7,000km (4,300 miles) spread over 20 “travelling” days with 3 “non-travelling” days.

We have planned over 50 Regularity Sections that will be held on quiet country roads that carry very little other traffic.  These Regularities are predominantly on well-engineered and maintained gravel roads.  Although we have selected the smoothest of these, it is inevitable that there will be some rougher sections particularly after bad weather or use by heavy vehicles (eg logging or livestock trucks).  The weather in February is generally fine (particularly the further north we are), and dry weather will result in dust on these gravel roads so be sure to prepare your car accordingly.

We have also planned 8 Test Sections.  These are all on permanent race tracks – a number of them kart tracks – so the surface is good quality asphalt and the competition will be intense!

Day 1 – Auckland – Whangarei

After a couple of days in the comfort of Auckland, the first day is a relatively short one that allows for a relaxed ceremonial start from the Cordis Hotel car park. The morning features two Regularity Sections punctuated by a coffee halt, as we travel north through farmland and forests to our late lunch halt in Matakohe. Here you will have to choose between taking a long and relaxed lunch on the deck of the Gumdigger’s Cafe, or grabbing a quick snack before exploring the fascinating Museum next door dedicated to the magnificent Kauri Tree, but covering much more.

After lunch we head further north with a Regularity on roads used by the local stage rally and the Rally New Zealand when it runs. It is a short drive from there to the day’s end in the small and bustling city of Whangarei.

Day 2 – Whangarei to Russell

A longer day today as we head to the far north. The morning’s highlights include two gravel Regularities, coffee in an old bank building and some public toilets designed by the Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser!

From lunch we start to turn east and eventually south as we follow the north-east coast on an easy main road. There is a small diversion from the asphalt for a Regularity Section before we turn towards the Bay of Islands.

After passing through the tourist hotspot of Paihia our final obstacle of the day is the 10 minute ferry crossing to Okiato (New Zealand’s first capital), then on to our hotel in the pretty village of Russell. Originally called Kororāreka (Sweet Penguin), this was the first permanent European settlement in the country and quickly became a magnet for rough elements such as escaped convicts, whalers and drunken sailors – so much so that Charles Darwin described it as “full of the very refuse of society”.

Day 3: Russell to Auckland

The competition starts early today with a Regularity just 20 minutes from Russell. We then follow the east coast as we return to Whangarei for a Time Control at the scenic Whangarei Falls. Skirting the edge of Whangarei we get to the first Test of the event at the local Kart Club where you’ll be able to showcase the performance and handling of your car over a couple of laps of this smart circuit. This is followed by the morning’s second Regularity which is on another of the area’s classic Rally Stages, again frequently used on Rally New Zealand.

We return to the coast for lunch in a beach front restaurant then continue south along scenic and quiet back roads. We take coffee at a historical inn that is now frequented by bikers riding out from Auckland before hitting the day’s final Regularity.

Day 4: Auckland to Rotorua

A slightly earlier start today as we head against the main flow of traffic and leave Auckland by the Southern Motorway which we use all the way to the day’s Test on the Kart Track of the Hampton Downs Motorsport Centre. We then take easy back roads to a coffee in the cool surfer’s hangout of Raglan.

After coffee, the road around the Whaanga Coast is a little on the rough side, but the coastal views more than make up for it, and World Rally enthusiasts will recognise it as one of Rally New Zealand’s iconic coastal stages. There is a Passage Control at the car park for Bridal Veil Falls which at 55m high is double the height of those at Whangarei yesterday, and the 10 minute walk through primeval forest is an adventure in itself. Immediately after the Passage Control is the day’s first Regularity on twisting gravel roads.

Looping to the south of Hamilton we have lunch in a delightful cafe nestled among blueberry bushes before a rare Regularity entirely on asphalt roads. In another departure from routine the final control of the day will not be at the Hotel, but will instead be between Matamata and Tirau.

Day 5: Rotorua to Gisborne

Leaving Rotorua to the east we pick up a Regularity on the way to the coast at Whakatane which recently hit global headlines as the base for rescue efforts after the White Island volcano tragedy. After a friendly coffee halt, there’s another Regularity before some fabulous water’s edge driving beside the Bay of Plenty brings us to a simple lunch halt in the slightly down-at-heel town of Opitiki which nowadays scrapes a living from kiwi fruit and mussels.

The main target of the day comes after Opitiki in the shape of what, during the 1990s, became regarded as the most challenging stage on the World Rally calendar. The Motu Road is 47 km long and we will split it into a pair of Regularity Sections to allow you to conquer the toughest central section in your own time. You can start to relax when you reach the village of Motu and get some well-earned refreshment in the Motu-vation Cafe that has promised to open specially for you. It is mostly downhill from there to the vineyards that surround Poverty Bay and indicate that you are arriving in the city of Gisborne.

Day 6: Gisborne to Taupo

Although not the longest, this is likely to prove one of the toughest days of the event. We climb away from Gisborne to a Regularity section along a ridge top road that has become a staple of the Silver Fern Rally in recent years then drop down to the coast for a coffee and to fill fuel tanks to the brim for what lies ahead.

After a diverting Regularity we start to climb towards Lake Wakeremoana and bid farewell to asphalt as we dive headlong into the New Zealand you have been waiting for: a picturesque landscape characterised as much by volcanic mountains as it is by bodies of water and native forest; much of it thanks to the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

The day has a final fling in the shape of a Test at the Bruce Mclaren Motorsport Park almost within sight of the hotel – and it’s so good we’re going to do it twice. It is then just a short run into the luxurious Hilton spa resort that will be our base for two nights as we have a rest day tomorrow.

Day 7: Taupo Rest Day

After the last few days you will have earned a day off in our wonderful spa hotel overlooking Lake Taupo. If you have time to spare after completing all of the normal rest day chores, there are geothermal pools to explore, jet boats to be ridden and all manner of more athletic activates.  Or you could just opt for a Big Mac in “officially” the World’s coolest McDonalds that is housed in an old DC-3 aeroplane.

Day 8: Taupo to Whakapapa

A couple of Regularities in the morning will see us joining this aptly named road at the top of the Tangarakau Gorge, before passing through the narrow Moki Tunnel (aka The Hobbit Hole) to lunch in the independent republic of Whangamomona!

After lunch we retrace our steps back through the Moki Tunnel and descend the full length of the deep Tangarakau Gorge before a relaxing afternoon coffee halt in a small lavender farm.

The last action of the day is to climb up to the small village of Whakapapa that is the gateway to Tongariro National Park and the smouldering volcanoes that are one of the must-see attractions of the North Island, and include Mount Ruapehu which is the largest active volcano in New Zealand.

Day 9: Whakapapa to Palmerston North

Barring any nocturnal eruptions we will have the opportunity for a lie-in this morning as we make a leisurely start from the Chateau. A single Regularity will bring us to the lunch halt in the bustling provincial town of Taihape that claims to be the ‘gumboot capital of New Zealand’.

The pace picks up a little in the afternoon with a pair of Regularities separated by a pleasant coffee halt in the village of Kimbolton. We pass an FIA graded race circuit at Manfeild Park that has recently been named in memory of the Formula 1 and Sportscar driver Chris Amon who was born close-by and was famously awarded the win of the 1966 Le Mans, together with fellow Kiwi Bruce Mclaren, after three Ford GT40s finished side-by-side.

Day 10: Palmerston North to Wellington

Our final day on the North Island takes us south east from Palmerston North towards the deserted east coast. We have two Regularities before a coffee halt in the tiny village of Tinui and then a third shortly afterwards. That is the end of competition for the day as we continue to the fabulous vineyards in Martinborough where the day’s final control will precede a long and leisurely lunch at the Tirohana Estate courtesy of the ERA in lieu of the normal evening group dinner.

Day 11: Wellington to Blenheim

There is no timing today as we take the ferry across the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton then the short drive to another centre of New Zealand’s booming wine in Blenheim.  The ferry crossing takes 3½ hours and be sure to get a window seat as the scenery as we navigate Queen Charlotte Sound is stunning.

Day 12: Blenheim to Hanmer Springs

There is action right from the start today as we quickly reach a couple of Regularities that will bring us to the main feature of today. 125km of remote gravel road crosses the Molesworth Station which is the country’s largest farm covering over 180,000 hectares and rearing around 10,000 cattle at any one time. The scenery is stunning and the driving a pleasure.

Day 13: Hanmer Springs to Nelson

There are three road passes across the Southern Alps and this morning we take the most northerly one, the Lewis Pass, as we head towards the morning coffee halt which is quickly followed by the day’s first Regularity. An adventurous but narrow gravel road leads us over the Maruia Saddle and through a number of river crossings before a second Regularity brings us to lunch in Murchison.

The afternoon features a splashy Regularity before an enjoyable run to lakeside St Arnaud and then we will head directly to the day’s final control at the WoW Museum on the edge of Nelson.

Day 14: Nelson to Hokitika

After a series of shorter days, today only misses out on being the longest of the event by a single mile. We start by retracing our route as we leave Nelson behind and take in a couple of Regularities before a coffee halt back at the location of yesterday’s lunch in Murchison.

From here we use fast but scenic main roads as we cross the Island to a late lunch at Punakaiki. Enjoy a quick bite at the efficient Pancake Rocks Café but try to make time to walk from the highway out to the rocks and blowholes. Punakaiki’s claim to fame is Dolomite Point, where a layering process has carved the limestone into what looks like piles of thick pancakes. This is a sight not to be missed!

We then follow the West Coast south for a while before turning inland to make a scenic loop of Lake Brunner and a final Regularity takes us to our overnight hotel in Hokitika in time for the highlight of this area – sunset over the Tasman Sea.

Day 15: Hokitika to Fox Glacier

We start this short day by heading north then making a wide loop around Hokitika picking up a couple of Regularities on the way before a coffee halt in the historic gold mining town of Ross. From here we are sandwiched between the Southern Alps on our left and the Tasman Sea on our right so there is no alternative but to follow the scenic SH6 along the west coast.

We pass the Franz Josef Glacier before arriving at our destination for the day in time for a late lunch beside tranquil Lake Matheson where (on a clear day) the skyline is dominated by the Southern Alps with the peak of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook in the background.

Day 16: Fox Glacier to Queenstown

Leaving Fox Glacier we are again restricted to the SH6 which is no hardship as it is an interesting drive through varying scenery with both mountain and ocean views. We take coffee in the town of Haast and then start to climb to cross the Alps at the Haast Pass with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the mountains, forests and (whilst descending the Pass) the fabulous Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

The lunch venue is Wanaka Airport which hosts Warbirds Over Wanaka – an internationally renowned air show set against the rugged Central Otago landscape. There is a Regularity shortly after lunch before we arrive in the fruit growing centre of Cromwell and the day’s final control at the modern and very smart Highlands Motorsport Centre. After checking through the final control of the day we have arranged for you all to drive a few laps of this exciting new race circuit behind an enthusiastically driven pace car. If, after you’ve done this, you want to experience it again at full speed you may be able to book a seat in the Porsche Cayenne “taxi”. Or alternatively enjoy the afternoon tea that will be provided in the café and a sojourn around the small but interesting race car museum. From Cromwell it is a 45 minute run into our wonderful resort hotel on the edge of buzzing Queenstown.

Day 17: Queenstown Rest Day

Queenstown styles itself as the Adventure Capital of the World, so there are limitless possibilities to make this day far from restful!  The buzzing  town centre is a 25 minute water taxi ride from the hotel or you may prefer to drive out to stylish Arrowtown, jet boat on the Shotover River or rent a downhill mountain kart in the Crown Range.

Day 18: Queenstown to Milford Sound

An early start today to beat the daily exodus of camper vans and tour buses from Queenstown as we skirt alongside Lake Wakatipu then turn east in search of a Regularity which we find after a brief coffee halt in the small farming town of Riversdale. With the penalties for the day safely in the bag, we turn back to the west to take lunch in the picturesque tourist town of Te Anau.

The afternoon’s run is a 2 hour drive along the Milford Road which is rightly renowned for its stunning views of looming cliffs and, if we’re lucky enough to have some rain, its multitude of waterfalls. The highlight of the day is waiting for you at the end of the Road…for tonight, we have chartered the iconic Milford Mariner for our exclusive use.

Day 19: Milford Sound to Invercargill

After a magical awakening surrounded by the Sound, we disembark and make our way back to Te Anau. You can return to the same venue as yesterday to grab an early lunch, or perhaps try one of the many other establishments within the town. The restart MTC is at the exit of the only large car park in town and then we continue south alongside the mighty Fjordland National Park.

Passing the historic Clifden Suspension Bridge we take in a delightful Regularity before afternoon tea in Winton and another shortly afterwards on the way to the rally’s most southern overnight halt in Invercargill.

Strange as it may seem, make sure you stop for 10 minutes or so at the E Hayes & Sons hardware store; yes, we know hardware shops aren’t usually a must-see, but this one holds a piece of motoring history. In among the aisles of bolts, barbecues and brooms in this classic art-deco building are more than 100 items of motoring memorabilia, including the actual motorbike on which the late Burt Munro broke the world speed record – as immortalised in the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Although we don’t expect you to break any records today… Teretonga Park Circuit will be a challenging test for you and your car – and so much fun that we’ll do it twice!

Day 20: Invercargill to Dunedin

As we approach the end of the event, the pressure starts to build for both competitors and marshals. Today we are planning no fewer than four Regularity sections as we follow the south coast through the Catlins Forest Park. We pass the most southerly point on the event just before our morning coffee halt by the underwhelming Niagara Falls.

Lunch is by the beach at the mouth of the Clutha River then we drive up the valley to an afternoon coffee halt immediately after the mildly alarming raft ferry that crosses the river at Tuapeka Mouth. We’ll pass through the historic gold mining town of Lawrence before looping through the classic special stages at Waipori Falls and Kaka Bush. By the time you reach the Dunedin hotel in the old post office building you will be ready for a rest.

Two words immediately spring to mind when Kiwis think of their seventh-largest city: Scotland & Students. The Edinburgh of the South is immensely proud of its Scottish heritage, never missing an opportunity to break out the haggis and bagpipes on civic occasions. In fact, the very name Dunedin is derived from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh – Dŭn Eideann – and the city even has its own tartan!

Day 21: Dunedin Rest Day

Despite being the furthest city in the world from Edinburgh, Dunedin shares more than just its name with the Scottish capital.  The Victorian architecture, universities and museums make this a lively and fascinating city.  Nature lovers may like to take the short drive out to the Otago Peninsula with its colonies of penguins, seals and albatross.

Day 22: Dunedin to Lake Tekapo

The penultimate day is also the longest day of the event and this time with five Regularity sections as we head north through Otago. The first Regularity is a short and sharp affair on the George King Memorial Drive before a coffee halt in a cosy cafe in Middlemarch and a longer Regularity over stunningly desolate moorland brings us to a Passage Control by the huge hole in the ground that is the McRaes Flat Goldmine – New Zealand’s largest.

We have lunch at the historic and delightful Dansey’s Pass Coach Inn before a Regularity over the Pass itself. There is then a chance to relax as we take easy and fast roads into Central Otago and a coffee halt in Omarama. Which, sitting at the head of the Waitaki Valley, is surrounded by mountain ranges and fabulous landscapes. We miss the annual sheepdog trials by a few days, but this afternoon stop will take you to a local sheep farm which has become a regular staging point for tour buses: the Wrinkly Rams is so popular that it puts on 30-minute shearing and sheepdog shows!

The views of Mount Cook across Lake Pukaki are world renowned and you’re advised to stop to take photos before the day’s final Regularity takes us over the mountains to our resort hotel on the edge of Lake Tekapo, facing out across the turquoise lake to a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Day 23: Lake Tekapo to Christchurch

During this final day of the event we will be able to wind down, but not before the final pair of Regularity Sections have twisted and turned their way through the maze of roads in the rolling farmland between Fairlie and Geraldine.  From the coffee halt in Geraldine however, it is fast and relaxing driving to a sumptuous lunch in a modern golfing resort. It is an easy final run into the finish at the hotel on the edge of Christchurch’s Hagley Park where champagne will be sprayed, stories will be retold, friendships will be reaffirmed and final farewells will be made.

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Syd Stelvio Rally Reports

Day Nine – Whakapapa to Palmerston North  – 310 Km

“In the event of a Volcanic Eruption sirens will sound from the village. Keep calm and assemble in the hotel lobby for further instructions.”

These were the instructions for what to do in the event that one of the Volcanoes surrounding the Chateau Tongariro happened to sneeze during our stay there yesterday evening. Thankfully, we all awoke without any interruption from the village siren and even opened our eyes to sunshine, after the previous evening had been accompanied by a deluge of rain and fog.

The skies were ominous as we left though, and Mount Ngauruhoe was only semi-visible in the distance, towering over the hotel. The active stratovolcano is better known to the world as Mount Doom, used as such in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings, no rings of power were cast into its smouldering cone overnight, nor, thankfully, any wedding rings as despite being over a week into the rally husband and wife driver/navigator pairings appear to remain jovial!

It is right to mention that there has been a little bit of car swapping happening, keys have been pulled from pots and Peter and Louise Morton have switched Stuttgart steel for the Bavarian Motor Works, and are now driving in a trick looking BMW 2002Ti. The dust from the early days, and Motu Road in particular, seemed to have done for the 912 for now, but its not really about what you drive, enjoyment is king and we all hope that they are relishing their first ever rally.

Overall today was slightly shorter as we approach the coast, and there was some payback for having enjoyed so many deserted roads this past week with a few sections of state highway to get us on our way towards the south of the north and into Wellington in time for the ferry in a couple of days. Even so, the three regularities today were all of a decent length and provided breath-taking views across vast hilltop farmland and distant peaks.

Despite us still being in New Zealand’s summer, one could have been forgiven for thinking that we had entered autumn today. The mercury dipped into the teens for the first time this rally, the wind blew and the rain faded in and out for much of the day. The trees too, perhaps suffering from the overly hot summer, were faded and golden in places and many leaves had already been dropped, leaving the verges a mixture of orange and brown.

We were then surmised again, as the weather turned about for the final regularity of the afternoon and as we tackled 22 kilometres of largely ridge roads in the hills south of Kimbolton. The sun beamed down upon us, and the lit the landscape in a beautiful golden hue. The sheep hills stretched out and the view took the eye further, over to the cloud covered Ruahine Ranges in the east.

It was a fabulous way to finish off the day and no doubt served to reinforce the fact that we have probably all fallen a little bit in love with New Zealand’s north island over the past nine days. Tomorrow is half day as we head to Wellington, and our final bits of competition before the cars are loaded onto the ferry to travel to the South Island, until then though I am sure all involved will be extracting as much enjoyment as possible from the no doubt fabulous roads.

Syd Stelvio

For previous Syd Stelvio Rally Reports, please click on the report you would like to read:

Day 01 – Auckland to Whangarei

Day 02 – Whangarei to Russell

Day 03 – Russell to Auckland

Day 04 – Auckland to Rotorua

Day 05 – Rotorua to Gisborne

Day 06 – Gisborne to Taupo

Day 07 – Rest Day

Day 08 – Taupo to Whakapapa

Day o9 – Whakapapa to Palmerston North