There’s a lot of excitement in Invercargill as it’s been announced that the George Begg Festival is returning to Teretonga Park at the end of March 2023. Alexia Santamaria finds plenty of reasons to extend your stay.
They know a thing or two about celebrating in style in Invercargill, and already preparations are well underway for the George Begg Festival, which runs from March 30–April 2. Celebrating a golden age in Kiwi transport, locals and visitors alike are dusting off the retro threads and transport, preparing to celebrate a golden age in Kiwi motorsport. After a three-year hiatus following its inaugural event in February 2020, it’s back, promising a riot of colour and retro fun; locals are already planning their costumes.
Something for everyone
The event honours the late George Begg (an engineer-turned-racecar-builder whose skills saw him become one of New Zealand’s most prominent motorsport figures in the sixties and seventies) so obviously, this appeals to anyone mad on motorsport. But the retro vibe opens it up much wider – great food, fast cars, truly a great time all round. There will be a long lunch, ‘Studio GB’ event (a Studio 54-inspired party at Bill Richardson Transport World on the Friday); the Beggs Barmy car rally throughout Southland; a Twilight Barbecue at the track and more. Bring the kids, bring grandma, bring your mates – it’s designed with anyone, and everyone, in mind.
This is a great event for readers of this magazine as the event includes a dedicated space for visitors who have a three-day Track & Hospo Pass, or a three-day Track Pass. These passes include the ability to book a space on-site for motorhomes to stay for free (only one person needs to book the campsite, while all people staying need the three-day pass; your vehicle must be certified self-contained). Grab some campervanning friends and do a South Island roadie!
Great selection of motorsport racing
For the petrolheads, there’s an amazing array of racing across multiple classes – Formula Pacific/Atlantic, Historic Formula Ford, Formula Junior, Historic Touring Cars 1982-2000, Modern Touring Cars post-2000, Pre-1978 Saloons, Vintage Racing Cars – VCC, Historic OSCA & Shellsport, Historic Saloon Cars, Historic GT: pre-2012 FIA GT Cars (including Porsche 996 and 997, Ferrari 458, and older GT3 cars). Other on-track components include TCR vs 1990s Supertourers; Tractor Race; Ford and Porsche Races and Feel The Noise V12, V10, V8, V6, V4 cylinder rotary.
Dress up and dance
Who doesn’t love a good dress-up and boogie? It’s all about the sixties and seventies at the George Begg Festival. And there’s fantastic retro styling throughout the event spaces so it feels truly immersive. At the 2020 event people got into the spirit of things, dressing up in the clothes and hairstyles of the era – think Goodwood Revival in the UK or the Art Deco Festival in Napier.
If racing isn’t your jam, there’s plenty to immerse yourself in. There will be live music from The Beat Girls, food and beverage stalls (hospitality packages will be available too), a retail precinct, car displays, a kids zone and rock n roll dancing.
While you’re in the area, take a bit of time to explore. Invercargill (Waihōpai) is the regional capital of Southland. Founded in the 1850s, it is New Zealand’s southernmost city. Heritage buildings and the magnificent Queens Park and its beautiful gardens give it a slightly olde-worlde charm. It’s now also recognised as New Zealand’s Classic Motoring Capital with an impressive vintage truck collection, a world-class motorcycle display and more. It all started with Burt Munro in the sixties and lives on to today.
Do the Southern Scenic Route
Invercargill is one of the stops on the Southern Scenic Route, which has been ranked as one of the top 10 touring routes in the world (it goes from Dunedin, through the Catlins, Invercargill and on to Te Anau before ending up in Queenstown). It is a little over 600km long and packed full of things that will take your breath away.
It’s a great stepping-off point for Southland in general
Start your trip with the festival, then head on to explore the natural beauty of this region in Fiordland National Park, Rakiura Stewart Island or The Catlins. Southland has so much to offer and the George Begg Festival provides the perfect excuse to enjoy some of it.