Burt Munro’s Bluff Hill
Time has flown by, it’s been 10 years since the Burt Munro Challenge Rally was first celebrated in Southland. A four days long celebration of a man from Southland who still holds the land speed record of riding a motorbike at 183.58 mph set in 1967. The Burt Munro Challenge Rally attracts visitors and competitors from all over New Zealand and the world, and on a rather pleasantly warm Thursday morning it seemed most of them made their way to the sleepy port town of Bluff for the Bluff Hill Grunt. I must admit I love motorbikes, although I don’t own one or ride one, and over the years have enjoyed the beach racing at Oreti Beach that is part of the Rally. But I had not been to the Hill climb before so I was only happy to volunteer for the Bluff Rejuvenation 2024 community group as they helped with the behind the scenes of the event. When I arrived at the bottom of Bluff Hill the gates were already set up and spectators were arriving. I quickly found out I’d be located in the pits, at one of the gates providing security. Security? Me? Hired muscle? That’s certainly a new title for me but I actually had quite a good location. I was one street over from the start line, right next to the pits and the riders coming back down the hill would all file passed me on their way back to the pits (so I got to see a lot of extra activity). The weather was pleasant, yes, even I was surprised and the morning went by quickly. The streets of Bluff were alive with people, cars and off course many motorbikes parked in files. The bikes receiving their fair share of admirers from locals and visitors alike. Tents and trailers lined the street leading to the start line, competitors happily chatting with spectators and supporters – they share a common interest after all. I was lucky enough to be relieved from my post for a break just before the start of the second race so I wandered around and witnessed the activity around the starting line, listening to the banter and watching riders go through their pre-race ritual. For me this is just as interesting as the event itself.
Even for non motorbike fans I think an event such as this is something you should go to at least once, it’s a chance to show off what our region has to offer, a chance to mingle with others and soak up the atmosphere only big events can generate. And off course for bike enthusiasts these four days are not to be missed due to the big draw card – the motorbikes!
For more on the Burt Munro Challenge, check out their website: