5 reasons to love Transport World

It’s not the Eiffel Tower or Churchill’s bunker, but there’s way more to Invercargill’s newest tourist attraction than a bunch of trucks. I reckon Bill Richardson Transport World is so amazing, I’m dedicating my whole page to it. It’s a true one-size fits-all experience.

1. The history

Transport’s long been in the Richardson veins – the late Bill Richardson’s great-grandfather Samuel started a stage coach and livery business in 1878 and the company it turned into is now one of New Zealand’s biggest privately owned ones. Bill was always a passionate collector of trucks, which for a long time were housed in a giant warehouse that you could see only by private appointment. His daughter Jocelyn O’Donnell has now added an Art Deco-inspired building, including a conference centre, to that warehouse and opened it to the public. Her personal touch and love of retro are obvious in nearly every corner. This extraordinary labour of love is totally world class and a major for Invercargill tourism. I love this quote that features on one of the walls: “I hope that when I die, someone will be interested enough to carry it on – Bill Richardson.” Someone has. And he would be very proud.

2. The collection

Part of the allure of the vehicles at Transport World is simply their stunning good looks. They’ve all been restored to their former pristine glory and just the array of colours is enough to make your jaw drop. You so do not have to be a petrol head to get a kick out of the 300 trucks, 150 petrol bowsers, an impressive Henry Ford collection and stunning display of VW Kombi vans. Then there are little touches like the iconic Southland shed that was going to be pulled down, but instead now forms the backdrop for a tractor display.

Tired of dressing up as a princess? Then get your stripes on and catch the paddy wagon to play prison.

3. The kid stuff

I think kids would pretty much like everything here, but there are at least two separate spaces set up just for them. One’s off the café, so Mum can have a coffee in peace, and one’s a giant interactive Lego space called the Construction Zone. My pal and I, who are quite grown up but obviously still kids at heart, dressed up in the policeman and convict gear provided in another part of the museum and hammed it up in the purpose-built prison with the vintage paddy wagon parked outside.

Have a wee look at the museum’s custom-designed bathrooms and let the Kiwi ingenuity sink in.

4. The loos

It’s not very often I get excited about a trip to the loo, but the lovingly crafted ones all throughout the museum are really something special. From the pastel-coloured retro basins of the ladies’ in the café to the oil-drum vanities in the upstairs mens’, it’s really worth drinking a lot of water and going to every single convenience because they all have something unique. Where else would you find mini-bowser hand basins or a repurposed tool box in the WC?

With its retro styling, Kiwiana and delectable delicacies, The Grille was a rare vintage thrill.

5. The café

A museum isn’t a museum without a decent café and The Grille is a pearler. For a start, the guys in the workshop have added some brilliant touches I’m pretty sure you won’t find anywhere else. Check out the lampshades made from old rego plates, the industrial drinking fountain or the cutlery holders that are old Bluff oyster cans. And then there’s the food, which is top-notch, although bring your appetite – Southland portions are huge, even for a greedy guts like me. I awarded the ginger crunch here 10 out of 10, but it was ultimately beaten by the perfect cheese scone, which got 11. This is Invercargill’s new hot spot, for sure.

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