2019 National Festival

Many thanks to Ethan Haigh for sharing this Wellington perspective on the 2019 BMW Car Club & Owners' Register National Festival, held at Braxmere Lodge, Tokaanu.

The journey north to attend the inaugural BMW National Festival began with the members of the Wellington chapter meeting up at the Plimmerton Weigh Station with Ronnie Bekker almost missing the rendezvous! We encountered a stroke of bad luck with traffic backed up all the way to Pukerua Bay, so it was definitely a bit of a slog for the first half an hour but the traffic eventually broke up and the road trip began proper. However bad luck struck for Neal Meachen when he got an error code several kilometers out from Bulls and had to slog it home in limp mode! By the time we arrived at Turangi it was well past dusk and the only place that had an open kitchen at that hour was the Turangi Tavern, nonetheless we managed to order our meals in time and shared some stories while the Hurricanes got soundly beaten on live TV. 

Saturday began with an early rise before stopping by at Tokaanu where we found that Robert May had got a flat tire overnight! Next was the obligatory pre event car clean, we even made a point of bringing some autoglym with us on the trip for this purpose, although the “hose” at Braxmere was taped onto the tap rather than something more permanent. Once the Bimmers looked the part we moved to park on the rather pristine Lakeland House lawn right on the shore of Lake Taupo which was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Parked up on the lawn was a good range of cars; from the pair of AC Schnitzers to an 850CSI, plenty of M cars and even an Alpina B5; there were certainly some interesting Bimmers on display. At the event there was good representation from the different regions, with Tony Robertson attending all the way from Nelson!

Most of the day was spent wandering around, checking out the cars and chatting with fellow members, although we ended up arranging a car swap and a 45-minute drive around lake Rotoaira. Stu G and Tony R drove each other's E39 M5’s whereas Peter H and Jason E drove each other’s E60 M5 and F30 330E I-performance along the great lakeside road with plenty of corners, hills and scenery to match. The final event of the day was the dinner held at Lakeland House with a 3-course meal, plenty of Tuatara beer and wine, they were certainly well stocked. The night was interrupted by a brief power outage however the show went on by candle light until the power was restored. The highlight of the evening was of course the prize-giving, with a speech from the national president Gerry Hodges leading up to the presentation of the awards. The People’s Choice for the best presented bimmer went to Ian M's stunning zinnoberrot E24 M635CSi - who was fittingly rewarded with a model E24 M635CSi! The People’s Choice for best motorcycle went to Max K's R1200R and the President’s Choice for best vehicle was awarded to Aaron M's blue E39 M5. With both cars hailing from Wellington, we did rather well on the day!

The final stage of the event was a Sunday breakfast at Lakeland House before we set off on one more drive to Ohakune, with some fantastic views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngarahoe. The roads were great with long straights and winding corners, and the great weather made for a good lineup picture by the Makatoe Viaduct. At Ohakune we set down for lunch at The Mountain Rocks Café & Bar, which had good food and a neat rustic styling, although before we set off south Jon Begley performed the second scan of the weekend on both of the E60 M5’s - which are of course renowned for their 'reliability'. From Ohakune myself, Peter, Graeme, Ronnie, Jason & their respective families headed south via the Paraparas and Whanganui, which turned out to be some more fantastic driving roads although slips had closed off a lane in certain parts. After an obligatory oil top-up in Whanganui for the M5 and a low tyre pressure warning near Bulls, it was a pleasant cruise back down to Wellington. For an inaugural event of this magnitude, organisation was superb, as was the member attendance. With the next year’s event already booked for Braxmere Lodge, all the onsite lodgings have sold out; attendance is surely a must for any club member! 

Not bad for a Sunday drive!