A jaw-dropping convoy of 31 McLarens toured through the stunning scenery of Bruce McLaren’s home country on the Epic New Zealand Tour 2016.
Auckland’s redeveloped Viaduct Harbour played host to a group of 31 McLarens, signalling the official start of the Epic New Zealand Tour 2016 – a driving event that took in some of the best roads and scenery that New Zealand has to offer. As the tour wound its way down through both the North and South Islands customers also had the chance to enjoy award-winning food and wine, plus unique experiences including a helicopter flight over a glacier. Special guests taking part in the tour included five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell, daughter of Bruce, Amanda McLaren plus McLaren factory driver Bruno Senna.
Clockwise from top left: the start of the tour in Auckland; Maori with a traditional conch; the 675LT Spider takes to the circuit; CEO Mike Flewitt and Amanda McLaren.
Following a welcome from McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt, the convoy – which included an iconic F1, a pair of McLaren P1™s, a handful of 675LTs, an early 12C Spider and a selection of Super and Sports Series models – headed south to the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park near Lake Taupo. Despite persistent rain and a sodden track, an afternoon at the circuit gave customers the chance to explore the limits of their cars under the guidance of professional instructors.
The next day, the cars travelled to the capital Wellington, stopping off for lunch at the quirky British Car Museum in Haumoana on the way. To conclude the tour’s time on the North Island, dinner in Wellington was served at the Te Papa Museum, where the guests were treated to a traditional Maori welcome, which included a performance of the famous Haka.
The twists and turns of State Highway 6 provided one of the most memorable drives of the tour.
The 31 cars on the tour, including this McLaren P1™, joined the hundreds of classic cars housed at the British Car Museum in Haumoana.
Day three began with a choppy ride across the Cook Straight on the Interislander Ferry, giving spectacular views of Marlborough Sounds as the boat neared its destination, Picton. The group was greeted by a large crowd of enthusiastic locals at the Omarka Aviation Museum, where guests took a guided tour of the incredibly detailed exhibitions, before enjoying a display from a Chinese Nanchang fighter plane. From there, the twisting State Highway 6 provided some of the best driving of the trip so far, taking the tour to its overnight stop in Nelson.
The following morning, the convoy rolled out of Nelson for the longest day of the tour. This 800km drive took guests from the coastal town of Nelson all the way down to Lake Tekapo, via the incredible Arthur’s Pass road. This leg of the journey provided incredibly varied landscapes, flitting from green woodland to coastal temperate rainforests, rugged snow-capped mountains and open plains. After an encounter with a group of cheeky Keas – an inquisitive alpine parrot native to New Zealand – on Arthur’s Pass, the convoy arrived on the shores of Lake Tekapo for a dinner with McLaren Chief Designer Rob Melville and a stargazing excursion.
Clockwise from top left: a traditional Maori welcome in Wellington; the tour boards the Interislander ferry; customers enjoy a drink on the glacier; a 675LT near Lake Tekapo.
The glacier and Minaret Station helicopter excursion was a highlight of the tour for many of the customers.
Customers enjoyed 360-degree views from the Mount John Observatory to start day five, before stopping off at Lake Pukaki, where snowy peaks of the Southern Alps frame the bright turquoise waters of the lake. After a short drive to Wanaka, the guests boarded a fleet of helicopters for an unforgettable Champagne reception on a glacier, followed by dinner at the remote Minaret Station – an exclusive alpine lodge that’s accessible only by air.
The final day of the tour kicked off with a track day at the state-of-the-art Highlands Motorsport Park, where the customers were joined on the circuit by one of McLaren’s latest racing machines, the 570S GT4. The Epic New Zealand Tour 2016 ended in style with dinner and drinks at the Stoneridge Estate winery, where guests were joined by the tour crew to look back on an unforgettable week packed full of fantastic roads and stunning scenery. Just one question remains – how can the next Epic tour possibly top New Zealand?
The iconic McLaren F1 cools after a session on track at the Highlands Motorsport Park near Cromwell.
Clockwise from top left: finale dinner at the Stoneridge Estate; 570S GT4 in action at Highlands; a thrilled customer at prize giving; the tour badge on the flank of an F1.