“It is a great example of a company recognising the consumer trend towards wanting more natural products. It would be fantastic if we could get more furniture made from wool into New Zealand homes.”
Overlooking the dramatic natural beauty of Central Otago’s high country with its forests, Bannockburn and the snow-capped Pisa Ranges in the distance, Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park offers exceptional experiences for everyone.
The Park’s Chief Operating Officer Josie Spillane says her favourite activity is being on the front desk and seeing people’s reactions as they enter for the first time.
“We’re in the business of bringing people joy and the team do a phenomenal job with that. It’s the satisfaction of seeing customers have an amazing time. We create memories that last forever.”
Whether it’s marvelling at the stunning collection of rare cars in the Highlands Museum, experiencing state of the art virtual reality motor racing, participating in ‘U-Drive’ or ‘We-Drive’ experiences around the circuit, laser-clay shooting, electric bike hire, relaxing in the café or sampling Central Otago wines, there is something for everyone to get very excited about.
Home to some of the rarest cars in New Zealand motorsport history, New Zealand’s National Motorsport Museum is home to about sixty vehicles — a mix of classic and modern vehicles all in gleaming mint condition.
There is also Michael Schumacher’s Benneton Formula One and the $4.2m Aston Marton Vulcan — one of only 24 in the world and the only example in the Southern Hemisphere.
Often referred to as Disneyland on steroids, when it comes to Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park, visitors are limited only by their imagination and appetite for fun.
Catering for people looking for a 10-minute Go-Kart experience right through to those looking for a full days experience the Park is a fantastic destination for families and groups with on-site accommodation giving people the flexibility of time.
“We have a lot of corporate companies coming through wanting to reward suppliers and staff and we can cater for groups from ten through to two hundred and everything else in between,” says Josie.
“At the moment we have a special where a family of four can come and do two high-speed lapses of the circuit in our famous Highland’s Taxi, experience the ‘Go karts’ and get entry to the museum. At $199 that’s exceptional value.
“On the third Sunday of every month we have a ‘track-laps-breakfast’ where visitors can do two controlled lapses of the circuit in their own vehicle behind a safety car, then have breakfast. The cost for that is $49.00 and passengers are free but pay for their breakfast.”
The Park’s most loved experience is the ‘U-Drive’ where visitors can drive part of the race circuit with an instructor beside them, in either a Ford Mustang or a Radical — an open-wheeler with no roof.
Post Covid, the famous ‘Loo with a View’ was built that overlooks the racetrack. Plans for the toilet had been drawn up prior Covid, but construction was brought forward as way of generating further diversity to the Park.
“The toilet has appealed to a mainstream market, driving visitors who may never have considered Highlands because they think you need to be into cars to enjoy the experience. Pre Covid our visitors would have been around 70% domestic.
Central Otago has experienced a real increase in domestic visitors and we have certainly benefited from that. But we also have great appeal with the Australians and we’re grateful that the bubble is open.”
Originally designed as a private membership circuit with some ‘Go-Karting’ in 2013, Highlands Motorsport and Tourism Park has evolved into one of the most innovative adventure tourism experiences in the Southern Hemisphere with over twelve on-site activities.
The Park still retains its private membership and hosts three major motor-racing events every year.
Looking to the future, Josie says the Park is always innovating.
“We’re always challenging ourselves to ensure we’re giving people a reason to return time and time again.”
© Waterford Press Ltd 2021