Hundreds of bikers still make their way to Invercargill

James Green, Andrew Mostert and Colby Mostert rode from Christchurch to Invercargill even though the 2022 Burt Munro Challenge was cancelled.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

James Green, Andrew Mostert and Colby Mostert rode from Christchurch to Invercargill even though the 2022 Burt Munro Challenge was cancelled.

The ‘Burt’ may not be on, but that didn’t stop hundreds of motorcyclists from continuing to head south to Invercargill.

This year’s Burt Munro Challenge, which was scheduled to take place February 9-13, has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The week-long event traditionally draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to town each year.

Andrew Mostert, his son Colby and James Green are at Invercargill, part of Christchurch’s five-rider contingent.

The Mosterts moved from South Africa to New Zealand at the end of 2019 and as soon as Andrew heard about Burt Munro, the challenge weekend was put on his calendar.

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This year’s Burt Munro Challenge was going to be his first, and he said if it happens in 2023, he’ll ride south again.

Mostert’s group took three days to descend from Christchurch, via Te Anau, Riverton and The Catlins.

The eldest Mostert has been riding for 30 years and 18-year-old Colby, wearing his father’s red and black slub leather jacket, has just gotten his license.

“We landed here [New Zealand] in September and I had already bought a bicycle in November. My favorite pastime is to jump on a motorbike and see where the road takes me.

As soon as a colleague told him about the film The fastest Indian in the worldMostert started looking for Burt Munro.

The Burt Munro Challenge stage at Oreti Beach, Invercargill, during the 2019 event.

John Hawkins / Stuff

The Burt Munro Challenge stage at Oreti Beach, Invercargill, during the 2019 event.

Mostert’s neighbor also drove a Harley-Davidson and was used to challenges.

“He says they go every February to Burt Munro’s, do I want to come with it? And I went ‘shit yeah’.

On Friday, the trio took a look at the E. Hayes And Sons motorcycle collection, a popular tourist attraction and hangout for Burt Munro Challenge riders.

The general manager of E. Hayes And Sons, Debbie Hodges, estimated there were around 200 passengers in the store.

Grahame Jarratt racing his Honda CBR 1000 RRSP1 1000 at the Burt Munro Challenge Street (Formula 1) races at Invercargill in 2021.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Grahame Jarratt racing his Honda CBR 1000 RRSP1 1000 at the Burt Munro Challenge Street (Formula 1) races at Invercargill in 2021.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but we thought it would be zero.

“I think it’s really good that they made the trip south again. Accommodation and hospo still need a boost.

There had been lines of motorcycles outside the store since Tuesday, Hodges said.

Burt Munro Challenge NZ Beach Racing Champs held at Oreti Beach in 2020. Pictured is Race 1 of the class up to 500cc.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Burt Munro Challenge NZ Beach Racing Champs held at Oreti Beach in 2020. Pictured is Race 1 of the class up to 500cc.

It was the first time the Burt Munro Challenge has been canceled since its inception in 2006.

Challenge committee chairman Craig Hyde said there were at least 200 runners in town.

The event typically had 2,000 to 2,500 riders for the rally and 500 riders, Hyde said.

The canceled Southern Field Days agricultural show and challenge were both big losses for the province, so having hundreds of runners in attendance was great for the economy, Hyde said.

While working on Stewart Island on Thursday, Hyde spoke to a group of runners from Palmerston North who come every year and decided to save their February annual leave and explore places they weren’t not gone before.

The 2023 event is scheduled for February 8-12 and registration opens October 1.

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