Rally closures: 'Not on our roads'

Plans to close some Otago roads for the Targa New Zealand rally have put some affected residents into a spin.

In Dunedin, the rally has divided opinions of Otago Peninsula residents who live in and close to Highcliff Rd, designated as part of the route for the South Island's first Targa rally in October.

Objections have also been raised in the Wakatipu, where organisers have applied to close the Queenstown-Glenorchy road.

Peninsula residents opposed to the road closure - from 9am-1.30pm on Thursday, October 30 - expressed concern about being unable to access their properties, noise and exhaust fumes from the event and the ''arrogance of organisers''.

However, rally organisers said they had gone out of their way to address residents' concerns, and the seven-day event, which starts in Christchurch on October 27 and ends in Queenstown the following Sunday, would bring millions of dollars to the Otago region.

Dunedin City Council transport technical officer Michael Tannock recommended the council approve a resource consent application for the road to be closed.

''While there have been objections to the event, the race organiser has made reasonable attempts to address the adverse impacts that may occur.

''Officers' views are that this event benefits the majority of the community, therefore, the closure should be supported,'' Mr Tannock said.

Pukehiki resident Lynn Samuels said, like many of her neighbours, she had been struck by the organisers' arrogance.

''We weren't consulted, we were told,'' she said.

The road was also popular with tourists, who would be unable to use it.

''It's not just a normal country road. It's a busy road.''

Other concerns posted by residents on the Pukehiki Community Blog included that ''wildlife and motor racing do not go together'', a car race was unsafe on such a narrow and steep road, and the event would disturb residents and farms where lambing would be in progress.

Pukehiki Hall society president John Ware, who was staying neutral on the issue, said a group of not-so-vocal residents was in favour of the rally.

Martin Dippie, here with co-driver Jona Grant in their Porsche GT3, is the defending Targa New Zealand champion. Photo: Ben Hughes
Martin Dippie, here with co-driver Jona Grant in their Porsche GT3, is the defending Targa New Zealand champion. Photo: Ben Hughes
Targa New Zealand operations manager Gary Upson said organisers had carried out a ''comprehensive consultation process''.

That involved door-knocking all residents living in Highcliff Rd, and Mr Upson disagreed with accusations of arrogance.

Residents had been given notice three or four months ahead of the rally, meaning they could plan around the lack of access, or arrange with rally organisers to be escorted out on the morning of the event, he said.

''We expect that we will have close to 200-odd competitors and by the time you get the service crew and helpers and officials there will probably be well over 1500 people who will be staying in Dunedin for two nights.

''All of those people are going to be wining and dining while they are there,'' Mr Upson said.

The council report on the event will be open for discussion at the Otago Peninsula Community Board meeting on Thursday, when the board will be asked to give its opinion on the road closure before a final decision is made by the council.

Closing the Queenstown-Glenorchy road from 1.30pm-7pm on Saturday, November 1, was running ''roughshod'' over the interests of businesses and residents along the route, an objector claimed.

Blanket Bay luxury lodge general manager Philip Jenkins had written to the Queenstown Lakes District Council opposing the application, and would ''vigorously appeal'' if it was granted.

''You can't close an arterial road for an event that will stop traffic coming out to Glenorchy when there isn't an alternative route.''

The lodge supported events that drew visitors to the region, but event organisers could not ''run roughshod'' over local businesses.

Closeburn resident Doug Bailey said it was ''unacceptable and unreasonable'' for the road to be closed for an extended time on a weekend day.

Glenorchy Community Association chairman Pete Reid said a Targa representative had not attended last week's monthly meeting as he had hoped, and residents had not received details about the road closure application.

''A few residents are starting to question it because they haven't got any information. It's not ideal.''

However, he generally supported the event, and thought residents would be able to plan around it.

''It's not closed for the whole day, and there's a window in the middle of it.''

Council planning and development general manager Marc Bretherton said the public could make submissions on Targa's application until the council's property sub-committee made a decision on August 28.

Targa New Zealand managing director Peter Martin could not be reached for comment.

Targa cops carry-over attitudes

Thank you, winningway, for making plain the procedures for ensuring the safety of people living along the proposed routes in the even of illness or accident.  This goes a fair way to relieving my concerns over serious problems caused by road closure.   

Where I see the difference between closing the road in question, compared with closing George St for a parade or protest march, is that anyone can access businesses on the closed streets by parking or by getting off the bus a very short way from destination, then walking a couple of blocks.  In many parts the Peninsula route has no footpaths, no places to drive down an alternative route.  This is fine for those whose daily pattern is 8-5 work in town but in the countryside one cannot assume this pattern fits the majority.  As a "country kid" by birth I am well aware of the inconvenience when our one road was blocked by flood, accident or road works.  

The point I attempted to make was that some closures are inescapable, such as those.  Others are voluntary choices to accommodate  inessential activity.  At the same time as we are experiencing a War on Cars, waged by Council's ideological cycling promoters passionate on saving the planet by reducing use of fossil fuels, is is somewhat puzzling that there is support for disruption of ordinary Dunedinites' daily lives for motor racing. This on top of the increases in parking meter charges and reduction of parking spaces, for our own and the planet's good!  Cyclists and pedestrians can use the Targa route while the event is in progress, right?  No?  Consistency would be nice, if the DCC is serious about fossil fuel phobia.  If its principles vanish, if they "spray and walk away" when there is a prospect of money inflow, perhaps their public documents e.g. District Plan should include a scale of charges for special permissions so we would all have a fair go, could work out what rules  can be ignored in return for actual payment or Visions of truckloads of dollars.

It is fairness, and lack of same, that concerns me. And I am extra cautious about glittery pictures drawn in the air to support any project.  Although what Targa wants does not appear to be asking for even  greater charges on my rates demand, if its organisers are aware of what has been dumped on ordinary Dunedin people in the cause of professional sport they will understand why bolshy attitudes are growing.  When these impact on people who behave responsibly, ask for relatively little sacrifice, and have done their homework, it is unfortunate - but understandable.  You just have to look at our rates accounts.  Many of us are "gun-shy" now.

Targa safety

As a classic rally team looking forward to our first Tarmac Rally in the South Island, I must say that every competitor considers it an absolute privilege to drive on roads closed for the Targa Event. I think the closure argument is for the local community but I would like to add some factual information to the argument.

I would like to help out with the "what about emergency access" question. During Targa North Island this year a stage start was delayed substantially when a local had a coronary event. Not only was an ambulance available straight away for the resident - as with all stages it was waiting at stage start - but because of its proximity, in what was a fairly
remote location, quick medical attention probably saved his life.  This is not the only time this has happened but is the most recent.

During this delay, and it did have a run on effect leading to later stages being cancelled, I did not hear anything but acceptance by the drivers and co-drivers of the situation, not one complaint. This is not arrogance but a respect for locals, the welcome they have extended to us and the compromises they have had to make to share their road with us.

As competitors and sometimes volunteers we are looking forward to the visit to the lower South Island and hope we can give back to residents some of the enjoyment that their generosity will give us.

Hopefully the communities we pass through will do all they can to maximise the publicity the event will bring. As New Zealand currently does not host the international WRC event, Targa NZ is the best international closed road motorsport in this country and its coming to your town! 


Additional IRD revenue sources

A previous poster makes a light-hearted reference to the taxing of smiles. On the basis of his grinch-like opposition to the Targa rally, one would suspect that MikeStK would be due for a very large refund, if this was in fact the case.


I will tell you how, Mike. Motorsport events have marshals. Events on public roads require a marshal at every gate entrance to ensure no one drives out the gate into the path of a fast moving vehicle. Every marshal is in radio contact with the clerk of the course who is able to stop the event when needed. So all you need to do is get to the mailbox. Not a hard thing to do.

Obviously, you're reluctant to divulge what your interests are. Whats the matter, afraid we're going to ruin your fun?

Privilege, arrogance – and Santa

Yes MikeStk, it is indeed a privilege to use public roads, and yes, people's everyday routine can be interrupted when such events happen. Hence the Council’s role to decide between what is and isn’t reasonable usage and inconvenience to residents. Just the same as it is for the Santa Parade. Or a marathon. Or any number of events can't be done or aren't viable on private space.  

Your assumption of "I'm watching sport so you should get out of my way" is a rather false representation of the process. As an organiser of similar events I can tell you it's more like "We're organising this sports event which will briefly inconvenience you, how can we mitigate that inconvenience?" If that's selfish or arrogant tell the Santa Parade as well, because that's exactly what they do. 

Your claim that Highcliff doesn't compare to the Santa Parade because you can drive around the Santa Parade is incorrect for two reasons. Firstly there's no drive around the Santa Parade for customers of businesses on George St. And secondly there is a drive around for Highcliff (indeed I'd expect a detour would be a condition of getting permission to close this road). 

I can’t speak for this event, but when the local car club runs events it's not like the residents are prevented from access, as I explained below arrangements are made if they need to work on their property, or travel away from home, etc. As I also said below the ambulance access is a good question, and I can't imagine that the road will not be available to ambulance and fire service as necessary (exactly the same as when a road is closed for maintence work etc). 

Oh yes, do-it-on-private-roads-and-don't-inconvenience-the-public. That's a good suggestion. If it were remotely possible. Perhaps that's another thing you failed to read in my post below. This type of event cannot be done on gravel (which are the only private roads available in the region). The cars and drivers are mostly completely different.  The only option would be to build a purpose built sporting facility - while motorsports fans would probably love the DCC to help bank-roll a Formula 1 track to put Dunedin on the map like our stadium, I'm sure you'll appreciate that city doesn't need another such financial albatross. [Abridged]

Come on guys

One day, six hours - that's all. We can ill afford to turn any events away from our city when business is so tough at present. There will be motels booked and cafes, restaurants and pubs all getting business. If Dunedin is to prosper we must celebrate these events.


So I would call ahead on my cell phone so I could get the road cleared so I could drive to somewhere I could get cell service to call for the helicopter .... is that how it would work? 

I'm a member of several local organisations and largely run one of them. I believe all of them pay their way in the world and I try to contribute more than my share so that those who can't afford it can take part too. We pay market rents for the space we rent and don't seek grants from a city council that has no money.


I think that the thing needed here is a lot of communication between the rally organisers and the residents so that needs, objectives and issues can aired and fears allayed.  Having watched the Targa on TV before, I have found that the television coverage does a fairly good job of showcasing the area in which they are racing.  Isn't that worth something, too?

'But we can drive around those closures'

Quips Mike. Sure, we can work around that and so should the residents of Highcliff road be able to work around this road closure. I find the central city road closures damn inconvenient as iIhave to travel to the outskirts to get to the other side of town.

You didn't answer my question either. What are your interests? 

Wrong on both counts

Mike: People aren't stranded in their homes. They only have to ask and the event is stopped to allow residents in and out. As for your ambulance argument, no motorsport event is allowed to start until there is an ambulance on site.

I'm with you Speedy

Mike & Hype, we agree on a lot of things and I normally appreciate both of your insights. However, on this I am afraid the argument you're putting forward doesn't make sense to me.
I totally agree with Speedfreak that the benefits of the Targa stage will be great for Dunners for very little outlay. I don't believe the followers of the event are being selfish and the organisers of the events approach seems quite reasonable and respectful. To try and associate this to the likes of the rugby stadium is clutching at straws and makes you look bad in my opinion.
As for forcing people to stay on their property for hours during a possible emergency, given this is a motor sport event, there will probably be more emergency services stationed in the area on the day than there would be at any other time and the organisers will have no doubt had to comply with OSH procedures and prove they have contingencys plans in the event of any number of percieved incedents. They don't just turn up an hour before the start and throw a few cones out, these events take months of planning and preparations.

Cancel the Santa Parade?

Sam11, if you think that motorsports shouldn't have occasional access to roads, do you think the same for marathons and other events that can't be done without public roads? What about the Santa Parade?

Are those organisers who use exactly the same provisions and procedures to close public roads also arrogant and selfish?

With respect to Highcliff it is not the only road into the area. And people are not blocked from their necessary activities, as I said below organisers generally work with residents so if they need access to milk cows or go to church or whatever it can be arranged.  

Good question about the ambulance, if a resident needs one I can't imagine the road would not be opened. Indeed one could argue that an ambulance will get to where it's going slightly quicker as it will have a section of road that it doesn't have to contend with traffic.  

Public roads

Speedfreeak: The Glenorchy road, which would be closed for 6 hours, is not a "hardly used" road.

But it doesn't matter if a road is hardly used. Personally I've had to drive the portion of Highcliff Rd that will be closed to get to somewhere with cell service to summon the rescue helicopter to help a young tourist who had broken their back jumping down the Sandfly Bay sand hills - waiting 5 hours was not an option.

Sure we close  down town for graduations and the Santa Parade - but we can drive around those closures and walk in if we need to. These closures are quite different because they strand people in their homes.

My mistake

Just re-read the article and it seems I underestimated the attendance. Make that 200 vehicles plus drivers, co-drivers and crews.

Rain on my parade

Mike: What about catering to the interests of the people? What's your interest? The motorsport community in Dunedin don't have a facility and therefore rely on the use of public roads for sealed events.

The rugby community got a new facility (to the tune of half a billion dollars) that was objected against by thousands, and paid for by us all, just to enable the possibility of maybe one all black game a year. 

Do you hear us jumping up and down demanding ratepayers build a facility for us? No. All we're asking is for a half day closure on a hardly used road with few residents which basically goes through farmland anyway. Not really a big ask, especially when it will cost the ratepayer nothing and help our flagging economy at the same time. There may be 100 vehicles, each with driver, co driver and service crew.

Like Baxter has previously mentioned, the are many road closures for many other things. If this event gets canned due to the moaning of a couple of people, I'm spitefull enough to take a short term lease on a property in town and will be more than happy to object to road closure for the Santa parade or any other road closure for that matter. The motorsport community here have many followers ranging from those just starting out to those with commercial property and local influence. If push comes to shove, im sure we will happily band together and put a spanner in the works for everyone elses fun.  Don't rain on our parade. 


Speedfreak: I think Hype is saying some of what I was trying to point out below - the idea that sport is somehow a more important pastime than normal people going about their every day lives, making a living, going to buy food, taking the kids to school seems to abound.

I find this assumption of privilege - "I'm watching sport so you should get out of my way" and in some cases "pay for me to do it" to be quite distasteful. It's entertainment - you should pay for your own fun, just like you pay to go to the movies, and you should do it without annoying other people or being a drain on the public purse. Closing a public road so you can play with your mates is not really any different than going downtown at night and finding yourself faced with a bunch of drunken hoons stopping you from going about your normal business.

I do think the council should provide facilities for people whom play (rather than watch) sport as a matter of public health, I have no problem with the DCC providing playing fields to sporting codes, even to rugby, for recreational sport - professional for-profit sporting organisations like the Highlanders should of course pay their own way as a cost of doing business.

I think if you want a place to drive fast you should find somewhere that doesn't get in other people's way. As I suggested below, find a private road you can rent, and seal it if that's what you need.


Oh dear, how blind and inward looking some are. So I guess from now on all these people saying that roads can't be closed for motorsport, will apply the same rule to people in running events, horses, cycling, parades, protests, tree felling, rock and slip clearance and anything else that needs road closures will be complaining. I live on the Peninsula and am hoping to see the Targa go past my gate. In fact, I might even have a fundraising BBQ to raise money for my form of pastime. One thing - how does the ambulance get to GY or anywhere when the road is closed by a rock fall and a serious accident? How about some constructive discussion on how we all can share in NZ's infrastructure that we have all paid for. These cars are, I believe, registered for use on NZ roads so they have as much a right to use them as much as anyone else. Be nice to each other and look to have fun. The government can't tax smiles yet.


For no useful purpose?

You're gonna cop some flak for that comment, Hype. The Targa is a long running event, known worldwide, and attracts some of the best drivers around. These drivers are no different than people from any other sporting code, striving to be the best in their chosen event.

I can't beleive you actually come out with that. Not only will the petrolheads be on your back, but competitors from all other sporting codes as well. Good luck. :)

Road closures

The arrogance of motorsport. Why should people or businesses or farmers be blocked from their normal daily activities/movements because of a recreational activity? Selfish. To shut the only road in or out of a rural area (or any area) is a major inconvenience and isn't justified. And the people supposedly making money (ie restaurants and motels, etc) don't have to put up with the hassle of not being able to get to and from their homes/businesses. And what happens if someone on the peninsula or in Glenorchy needs an ambulance? 

Pest activity?

"From my view, it seems (worldwide) that motorsport is one of the worst affected sports in terms of complaints, that cause events to be cancelled or have terms imposed," says Mangosaurus, raising the possibility that motorsport may be intrinsically antisocial.  It certainly uses up an enormous amount of fuel and causes a lot of noise and fumes and some forms of it interfere with other people's rights, all  for no useful purpose. 

Here we go again

Mike, I suggest you go to www.targa.co.nz and YouTube it so that you know exactly what this event is, what it does and so on. Clearly you are thinking this is no different from WRC or Otago Rally etc. There is one major difference. Targa Rally uses sealed roads only

They use closed public roads, so that people can *legally* race along them fast instead of annoying you or your neighbour when its just a local hoon in the middle of the night. They take safety and such very seriously, and have done so for the past 20 years of having the event, and smaller spin-offs, in the North Island.

For others who posted in here who don't seem to have a clue, rally is a dangerous sport. They don't race along 4 lane highways, or around racetracks with plenty of runoff. They use, and always have, narrow, winding, bumpy, scenic and generally 'fun' roads and the skill of the drivers negotiating these roads is what makes it so entertaining, as well as watching millions of dollars worth of high performance cars drive the way they were made to be driven.  Highcliff Road is an awesome road, and it is only closed for four and a half hours out of 8765.81 hours a year (which is actually how many hours there are, FYI).

There is another road people can use (that scenic curvy one that follows the harbour to Portobello - remember that?), and i'm sure the animals in nearby paddocks won't die of shock when they hear cars racing past them.As for the exhaust fumes concern mentioned in the article, I'd agree with that - if it  was staged inside a building. But it isn't. It is outside. On a hill that gets a lot of wind. Hmmm...

I seriously hope the naysayers don't get their way this time. Way too many motorsports events are ruined by professional complainers. From my view, it seems (worldwide) that motorsport is one of the worst affected sports in terms of complaints, that cause events to be cancelled or have terms imposed. 

Cancel the Santa Parade?

MikeStk, I agree it is a rubbish argument that objectors are ruining the economy – as often they have a good point. Dismissing such opinions as coming from “naysayers” is simply trying to minimise objections to unfair or ill-thought out projects (the stadium indeed being the prime example).  

However, you're quite wrong in your assertion that people will be stuck in their houses for most of the day. Residents will not have access for 5 and a half hours on a Thursday morning. Also many such event organisers (like our local car club) make arrangements for residents to enter and exit their property as necessary during events (not sure if this is the case with this specific event though). 

This is a sealed event; it can’t be run on a dirt road. They are in fact very different things with different cars, tyres, etc, even drivers – it’d be like asking soccer players to use a rugby ball instead. Also this type of motorsport cannot be held in Dunedin without the use of public roads. That’s just the economic reality of a city this size. 

Yes it’s an inconvenience, but so is the road closure for the Santa Parade, graduation marches, marathons, and other events that require on public roads. And just like the children at the Santa Parade and marathon runners et al, motorsports have a right to use them fairly. Should those events also be told to find private land to run on? 


Mike: I usually respect your opinions and knowledge on the many topics you comment on here but in this instance, its obvious to me that you have little knowledge on this topic.

For starters, this is an event usually only held in the North Island (as most of the big motorsport events are) and it would be great for once to have it come south. The are often many international competitors that come to this event. Secondly, most of the Targa vehicles are tarseal only vehicles, not your usual gravel bashing rally cars. Thirdly, motorsport attracts bigger crowds than any other sporting code in this country, bar none.

I no longer compete as the cost of doing so is so prohibitive and therefore it has nothing to do with me "lowering my sights". Be assured, that if my rates bill was not so high, due to paying for rugby's un-needed new facility and cycle lanes for three people to use, i would more than happy to throw some dollars at sealing a road.

Im inconvenienced more than 4 hours a year due to road conjestion around the stadium when events are held and also by un needed cycle lanes so as far as im concerned, the effected residents can just "suck it up" and deal with it. Its only four hours.


Easy solutions

Maybe you should lower your sights and use a dirt road, or pay yourself to seal a private road so you can use it. The farmer might let you use it for free for a period of time if you do that.

Please bring back the races

I live on the road which used to host the Festival of Speed races. I miss this event! It generated lots of money for Dunedin and the province. It was a great family day. Good for the community. Until those who know better killed it with compliance. Oh, you cant do that! That's to loud! You might hurt yourself!
Get a life. Sad to see these long-held events are disappearing because of the wowsers. You really dont know how many friends you have until its raceday and you have a house on the side of the racetrack.

Thanks for your input

Mikestk: Would you care to advise of any local farm roads that are sealed that could be used? Thought not.


Oh come off it. Some selfish people close a public road for their own fun, and imprison the people who live on it in their homes for  most of the day, and the people being inconvenienced complain. And your response is that they are somehow responsible for the downfall of the Dunedin economy. What rubbish!

I think that your attitude is just more "sport is more important that real life" rubbish that is such a drag on our local economy, it's selfish people like you who end up taking potentially productive industrial land and turn it into an empty wealth-sucking stadium, just so you can have some fun a few nights a year.

By all means have your rally, but rent a private farm road from a local farmer rather than locking local people in their homes and stopping others from going to the beach, or just taking a pleasant drive sharing the road with everyone else.

Nothing new here

Nothing new here, aye Baxter? The Otago Sports Car Club have this trouble with residents for just about every sealed hillclimb that they run. Thats why there are less and less sealed events. The Waitati hillclimb used to be one of my favourites but moaning residents put an end to it.

Castlewood Road was another really good one but that was ended after a tour bus drove through the "road closed" signs and came face to face with an angry escort coming up the road at full noise.

Last year or the year before, the Three Mile Hill event nearly didnt eventuate because of a moaning resident. I have done the Highcliff Road event several times over the years and didn't feel it was an unsafe event as claimed in this article.

The previous poster is correct when they state " some would say most people would leave if they could. I am certainly one of them.

Why run a rally on major tourist routes?

Of all the roads around Otago, why on earth choose roads that are both important public access roads? One of them especially shouldn't even be considered for a rally car to fly along. What are the organisers thinking? This isn't a case of whiners and naysayers to progress in Dunedin, this is a case of protecting and preserving a special place.

And yes, Dunedin and its beautiful Peninsula is a very special place, that's why people love Dunedin. Fast cars, rally's and petrol heads are a dime a dozen. I too, like many peope ,love fast cars. The Penninsula is a one off special place, it deserves to be left in peace.

Oh, and for the record, my family and I have planned and prepared to move to Dunedin for the past five years, In a few short weeks we will also be part of this very special city. Not everyone is leaving, nor would I venture to say most would if they could. Too many places are changing their cityscapes and forgoing the advantages of heritage and the environment. 

Let the rally run. It will indeed benefit the city, but think carefully about where it should run.

Targa rally

Really? One day in 365? And a few hours only - talk about the "me only society" and what about the the world wide coverage this will give. I for one would love to see this event pass through Otago. Go on people, lets have some fun for a change and not worry too much if you miss out on a few bits of coin. There too much seriousness in the world today.

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