Top Gear's new season opener features NZ

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 08:30 27/06/2013

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Top Gear's adventures in New Zealand feature when the popular car show returns to British screens on Sunday (local time) for its 20th series.

"The motoring magazine returns with the action kicking off in New Zealand, as Jeremy Clarkson and James May race a car against a boat in a nail-biting battle up the beautiful coastline to the very tip of the North Island," BBC promotional material says.

A 30-second trailer for the new series briefly shows May onboard Oracle's America's Cup catamaran racing with one hull well up in the air.

The Top Gear team was in New Zealand in March for the secret filming, with Clarkson driving from Coromandel to the Far North in a Toyota Corolla, while May did the trip in the Oracle yacht.

A section of the car trip up 90 Mile Beach ran into controversy when iwi complained about a lack of consultation after the Far North District Council closed the beach for filming.

Clarkson also apologised to people and news crews who staked out the beach to catch a glimpse of the show.

The council had announced part of the beach was to be closed off for a day for the filming of a "supersonic" car, but no such event took place. Instead Clarkson drove up the beach in the Toyota, with the drive also restaged another day to get some shots from a helicopter.

Clarkson tweeted: "Apologies to people and news crews who had a wasted journey to 90 Mile Beach. We were there but only briefly."

He seemed happy about the whole experience, describing New Zealand in a column as "bite-the-back-of-your-hand-to-stop-yourself-from-crying-out-lovely".

He suggested an all-powerful God would choose this country as the birthplace of his only child.

Prime TV said the new series would be screening in this country soon, but dates had yet to be announced.

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