‘Boutique’ car rally makes way through

Arriving at the Croydon Lodge in Gore on Friday night are Bangers to Bluff car rally members...
Arriving at the Croydon Lodge in Gore on Friday night are Bangers to Bluff car rally members including Graham Walker (left) who has been riding his bike each day. The rally ended in Bluff on Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Drivers taking part in a "boutique car rally" have pulled in to Gore for an overnight stop.

The Bangers to Bluff event comprises 16 vehicles, drivers and passengers who make an annual pilgrimage from Auckland to Bluff to raise money for charity.

The rally, organised by the Rotary Club of Half Moon Bay, in Auckland, has been held since 2016.

This year most of the money raised will support Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand (MSNZ).

The group stayed at the Croydon Lodge on Friday night before leaving for Bluff on Saturday morning.

Rally convener Ian Thomsen said anyone could take part in the rally, which was always limited to 16 cars.

"It’s more of a boutique rally for like-minded people."

The only criteria for the cars taking part was their value.

"They don’t have to be any age but they do have to be under $2000."

Most of the 38 drivers and passengers came from throughout the North Island but there were a few from Canterbury.

The majority of the people taking part in the 12-day rally were not Rotary club members.

The only requirement for rally participants was they enjoyed socialising and were "prepared to have fun and meet new people".

Drivers converged on Auckland for the start of the rally.

Throughout the journey each carload had to answer questions about the area they were travelling through or take photographs of landmarks.

While the beginning and end destination stayed the same each year, the rally took a different route.

Each carload also had to raise at least $1000.

In the time the rally had been held it had raised more than $500,000 for the charities the club supported.

The organisers were already taking entries for 2025.

"Anyone from Gore is welcome to enter next year."

Graham Walker, of North Taranaki, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 12 years ago and was taking part in his third rally.

"It’s such an amazing event," Mr Walker said.

"I wouldn’t miss it for all the tea in China."

He was being sponsored to ride his road bike on the rally, he said.

Each day he would set off before the tour started and bike as many kilometres as he could before the cars caught up with him. He had been known to sneak off early before anyone else was awake, he said.

He could do between 20km and 40km a day before the cars overtook him, he said. Then his bike was loaded on the back of a car and he travelled by car for the rest of the day.

Before the diagnosis he used to ride a bike and now could cycle better than he could walk.

He knew the importance of keeping active.

"My catchcry is ‘exercise is medicine’."

The organisers tried to keep the cost of attending the rally down by staying at cheaper accommodation.

The night they stayed at the Croydon Lodge was the most "salubrious" accommodation of the trip so far, he said.

He was a member of MSNZ and part of his role on the tour was to raise awareness of the group and the work it did to help people with the disease.