Motorcycles added to transport attractions

Nelson businessman Tom Sturgess in his New Zealand Motorcycle Collection museum. The collection is being shifted to Invercargill. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Nelson businessman Tom Sturgess in his New Zealand Motorcycle Collection museum. The collection is being shifted to Invercargill. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Invercargill has sealed its reputation as a tourist destination for petrolheads and a third transport-themed attraction is due to open later this year.

Jocelyn and Scott O'Donnell, who developed Bill Richardson Transport World, announced yesterday they had purchased Tom and Heather Sturgess' New Zealand Classic Motorcycle collection of almost 300 motorcycles, plus motorcycle-focused art.

They plan to open the collection to the public in a separate building in Invercargill's CBD.

Mr O'Donnell said the collection was world-class and ranged from a 1902 Peugeot motorcycle to a 21st-century Simms Corbin Custom, as well as brands such as Harley-Davidson, Indian, Matchless, Rudge, Schwinn and Zundapp.

"This has all happened very quickly. 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.''

Ask how much the collection had cost he said: "Millions, but I'm not saying how many.''

Mr Sturgess, a Nelson businessman, has built up his collection over about seven years and opened a purpose-built museum in Nelson at the end of 2014.

However, he closed the museum at the end of last month, saying since undergoing major cancer surgery last year he was "reorganising his priorities and goals''.

His spokesman, Chris Jackson, said today 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.

Transport World was opened in December, building on the truck and transport memorabilia collected by Mrs O'Donnell's late father, Bill Richardson.

It houses more than 300 vehicles and 200 fuel pumps, as well as other displays, a cafe and conference centre, and has attracted 25,000 paying visitors to date.

Mr O'Donnell said he and his wife believed the motorcycle collection was a perfect complement to transport world and to Invercargill's strong links with motorbikes through Burt Munro and the annual Burt Munro Motorcycle 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 probably be housed in either the old H&J Smith Outdoor World shop or the former nightclub building next door in Tay St, both owned by the Richardson Group. The exact location had not been finalised yet.

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 the Ascot Park Hotel, the indoor stadium and velodrome, transport world, Splash Palace aquatic centre and Rugby Park.

He suggested the council could look at a low-cost or free bus connecting those facilities to support transport tourism.

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