Where it all began
Wheels Week started as an annual tourism event hosted by the Ashburton District Council in 1990 created to bring visitors to the district. The unprecedented popularity of the week saw the event quickly become unmanageable and very expensive for the council to continue to host and, after much consideration, it was scheduled to be cancelled. The community stepped in and a public meeting was held to discuss the viability and the future of the event.
7 volunteers from the public were elected to form a committee that would take over the running and hosting of the event, with local sponsors coming on board to support continuing the event.
17 years later, the once small community event showed no signs of slowing down.
By 2007, Wheels Week had grown in leaps and bounds, smashing historic event records with the biggest programme ever held. Collectively, individual events welcomed over 10 000 visitors who streamed into the district to experience what had become an iconic South Island wheels extravaganza.
28 groups organised over 60 action-packed events throughout the week all over the district. The original Wheels Week kicked off festivities on a Saturday with the Ashburton Vintage Car Club Swap Meet and ended the following Sunday with the finals of the Ashburton Car Club Street Sprints race.
Some of the other events that were held during the original week included jet boating on the Ashburton River, aircraft displays, mobility scooter racing at the RSA, garage raids and the street parade.
Some of the first events from the original week are still being held and enjoyed today, starting and ending with the same two popular events as the programme continues to attract new exciting participants from all over the district.
Many of the event sponsors continue to be involved and support Wheels Week since it began with some of them even taking part and competing in individual items such as motorcycle shows and runs, car shows and racing lineups like the street sprints.
Wheels Action Awaits
COVID-19 put paid to many events for the first time in the events 30 year history, Wheels Week didn’t take place in 2020.
It was touch and go for 2021 and despite many COVID related challenges; the event went ahead welcoming new sponsors and some fresh additions to the programme.
Wheels Week plus has something for everyone – young and old to enjoy. It provides the district with an opportunity to showcase its hospitality, beautiful scenery and exciting family-friendly, outdoor Mid-Canterbury lifestyle to visitors who come from all over New Zealand to attend.
The event wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of all of our sponsors, the Ashburton District Council, the participants, spectators, and members of our wonderful community to work tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen.
We look forward to being able to host the exciting iconic wheels event for many years to come.
We are always looking to add images to our gallery from previous events. Do you have some photos or great stories from past events? Please share them with us on social #wheelsweek to be featured or email us so we can add them to our showcase and gallery for everyone to enjoy.