Final phase of renovation almost complete

  • 9 December 2019

The end is in sight: the third and final phase of renovation work on two period buildings in Invercargill’s inner-city is almost complete. Transport World property manager Sue Hill says the extensive renovation of the buildings housing Classic Motorcycle Mecca, the leading motorcycle collection in the Southern Hemisphere, has been the tourism hub’s most challenging project to date. “It’s been an absolutely massive job. This is like a whole new experience for us,” she says.

Two nineteenth century buildings on Tay Street have been extensively renovated, with work set to be completed in early 2020. The third and final phase of the renovation includes earthquake strengthening work to bring the buildings up to modern standards, as well as crafting a 1600m2 exhibition space for the upcoming George Begg display, which will celebrate the story of the Southland automotive legend and a golden age in Kiwi motorsport history. Visitors to Classic Motorcycle Mecca during the Burt Munro Challenge will be given an exclusive first look at the display before its official opening on 13 February.

“The scale of this renovation has been huge. We renovated existing buildings at The Lodges at Transport World, our boutique luxury accommodation, before but that project pales in comparison to what the work at Classic Motorcycle Mecca has entailed,” Hill says.

“It’s been quite a few sleepless nights, but the end is in sight and that feels great.”

Contractors have been undertaking the third phase of renovating Classic Motorcycle Mecca, off and on, for more than a year, with more than 35 people involved in the physical work, Hill says.

The project has included:

  • Reinstating an existing staircase to provide access from the top floors to the basement levels of the building
  • Uplifting the existing floor and reinstating new flooring
  • Shifting cables for infrastructure including data and electricity
  • Strengthening security infrastructure
  • Opening up two doorways in the existing treble-layered brick wall between the basement spaces of the two individual buildings (a task so big the builders were unable to do it; the team from SouthRoads were called in to undertake this aspect of the work using special equipment)
  • Moving the heating infrastructure in order to increase the distance between it and the outside ventilation system
  • Adding increased foundation stabilisation


“My hope is that, when it is all completed, visitors will be able to appreciate the enormity of the project and the craftsmanship that has gone into it. I hope they will find a lot of the beauty in the natural structure that we have brought back into the space,” Hill says.

A significant focus of the renovation work was to highlight the buildings’ spectacular period features. “We’ve recycled just about everything that was in there,” she says. “For instance, we had to take all of the floors up so we’ve saved that product and also uplifted some from the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the centre city, and worked it into the new space. We made a deliberate choice to reuse as much product as possible, not only because it is the environmentally and socially conscious thing to do, but also because we wanted to continue celebrating the exquisite craftmanship that was found in the buildings in their original form.”


The basement space at Classic Motorcycle Mecca is slated to be completed by mid-December, while the earthquake strengthening work will be completed in early 2020.

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