What to do on a Rainy Day in Invercargill

We love you Southland, but why do you keep raining on us? It might be spring here in New Zealand, but it’s like the atmosphere is trying to squeeze every last drop on our heads before summer arrives. Luckily for us, we are in Invercargill where, incidentally, everything we do seems to be the perfect rainy day activity. Yesterday, we marveled at tuatara inside the Southland Museum and the day before that we went on an indoor Invercargill Brewery tour. Tomorrow, we’re going to be making our very own chocolate, which we are betting is not an outside activity. So what are we doing today to keep out of the rain? We are going to see a collection that is all to do with travelling. Today, we are going to Bill Richardson Transport World.

Taking some transport to Transport World

It’s not until later in the afternoon that we rock up to Transport World. Robin is sick as a dog at the moment so has spent all morning in bed in between organising the next leg of our trip. What a trooper! We end up taking the bus to Transport World so as not to put Robin through the turmoil of walking in the rain. The bus driver drops us off right outside Transport World despite the “official” bus stop being further down the street. How nice! (They wouldn’t do that in Auckland or Wellington and especially not in New Plymouth, we’re telling you!)

Walking into petrol head heaven

We walk into the first shed of six – we say “shed” but it’s more like a warehouse – and holy cr*p! This place is huge! Not only can we see a whole main floor of about four rows of vintage cars, but there is an upper floor and side rooms to discover too.

Now, we’ll be honest, we are not petrol heads what-so-ever. (You might have noticed from previous blog posts that we don’t have the best relationship with our campervan). But it’s difficult to not be impressed by the size of the collection, the variety of motor vehicle memorabilia, and how most of these vehicles have been restored to look shiny and new. On the other hand, if you do love cars… Well, you better hope that one of these vehicles is an ambulance because you’re probably going to collapse with excitement.

A collection of early Ford cars A collection of early Ford cars
Robin is dreaming about a campervan he would rather have... Robin is dreaming about a campervan he would rather have...
...And Laura is looking at a dress she would rather wear ...And Laura is looking at a dress she would rather wear
Checking out these sleek vintage cars in the huge shed! Checking out these sleek vintage cars in the huge shed!

The most complete collection we’ll ever see

The display of the collection goes straight onto the big stuff. The rarest pieces of the collection are the first thing we see, such as the only working Dodge RX-70 airflow tanker in the world! This holds the central stage of the exhibition, while rows and rows of other impressive pieces of the collection lead you further into the shed. One of those rows is one of the most complete collections of Henry Ford Letter Cars in the Southern Hemisphere. We are looking at seven out eight cars that were the first cars to be produced commercially.

Looking at vans we would rather be travelling in

Cars, motorcycles, trucks, petrol tankers, farming machinery: most of the pieces are beautifully restored with an array of colours and waxed to perfection. It’s impossible for this place to look bad on photos. We are personally drawn to the four-piece Volkswagen Kombi collection. This would be the way to backpack through New Zealand in style, wouldn’t it?

The exception in the restoration is just in one shed where the cars are just too special to be restored. We get to see vintage vehicles how they were meant to be seen and rusty enough to appreciate how much they have seen.

Getting a good vantage point of this huge truck collection!

crazy-looking petrol pumps

The collection doesn’t stop at cars. As we move further and further into the sheds and exploring various upper levels, we discover antique fuel cans, cute pedal cars, toy vehicles, old engines, and our favourite, the petrol pumps. Wow, petrol pumps have gone through quite a transformation over the years, which we can definitely see with more than 200 petrol pumps or bowsers in Transport World. Some used to look like a machine used by crazy scientists with lit-up canisters that appear to serve no purpose. We definitely get a Back to the Future kind of vibe.

Invercargill in the early years

As we move around the 15,000sqm space, the exhibition turns into a street of the early years with New Zealand icons like Four Square supermarket with a vintage Four Square truck parked outside. There’s also a “people-friendly” police truck which Robin doesn’t hesitate to jump in and blow the siren. We also pass a vintage cinema and have a sneak peak into Bill Richardson’s workshop, where he used to tinker with his collection of old cars.

Information signs around the collection tell us more about Bill Richardson, who started his collection in 1967 collecting more than 150 vehicles before his passing in 2005. His family still continue the collection which has allowed it to grow to this mammoth Transport World that we are seeing today!

We told you these cars are beautifully restored We told you these cars are beautifully restored
Laura's just finished shopping at Four Square Laura's just finished shopping at Four Square
Sick-as-a-dog Robin dies peacefully in this vintage living room. He doesn't even know how to use a phone now... Sick-as-a-dog Robin dies peacefully in this vintage living room. He doesn't even know how to use a phone now...

A dedication to the toilets of Transport World

Every shelf, ever floor and every room has something to look at. This aspect even follows us into the bathrooms! The first ladies’ bathroom Laura checks out has different pastel-coloured sinks with vintage hand mirrors hung on the wall. The men’s bathroom has old water pumps turned modern-day taps above the sink.

After discovering the firth bathroom, we have to check out the rest! The next one is a Betty Boop-themed ladies’ bathroom with sink basins in shiny red barrels. The men’s toilet has a racing car seat built around the toilet itself. If you don’t come to Transport World for anything else, at least come to take an epic dump!

From cars to wearable art

The exhibitions finally take us upstairs to the World of Wearable Art collection. A mannequin wearing a dress made of washing up gloves and sponges welcomes us to the World of Wearable Art (WOW), which is quite a big thing here in New Zealand. It is creating some of the craziest fashion pieces mostly out of recycled materials or are themed in some sort of exaggerated way. What ever it is, it is hard to not be wowed by WOW! All the dresses here in Transport World are taken from Southland’s FibreOctave Wearable Art and Musical Extravaganza, which is hosted on a catwalk right here in Transport World.

Postage stamp dresses, uncomfortable metal dresses. a dress made of licence plates… Again, it’s an exhibition that, whether you like fashion or not, is too wacky to not enjoy.

A rest in the vintage-styled cafe

We take a quick look into the Grille Cafe before it closes to check out the themed rooms, such as a 1970s living room and an American-style diner. Robin has a sit on the vintage armchairs to gather his strength for the bus ride back to the Tuatara Backpackers. Poor guy.

Hopefully making our own chocolate tomorrow will cheer Robin up. (And hopefully he won’t be sharing his chocolate because Laura does NOT want to get sick). Join us then!

Laura and Robin

Robin gets a taste of policing in the days of old
Robin gets a taste of policing in the days of old Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Until tomorrow’s post, give these articles a read:

We also like to hang out on HerePin, post daily travel tips and advice on Facebook, and share our adventure through pretty visuals on Instagram!

See you tomorrow!

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