Hog heaven for rally riders
Leather and gasoline met the perfectly paved pitches of The Square as hog heaven roared through Palmerston North over the weekend.
Bikes of every shape and colour filled the lawns as members met to celebrate the 24th National Harley Owners Group (Hog) Rally, organised by the Central Districts chapter.
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Central Districts' member and rally co-ordinator Andy Stewart said about 900 bikes were on show from around New Zealand and overseas, and hundreds of keen members of the public came down for a look.
"It was a free thing for people to take a close-up look at the bikes and mingle with the riders from New Zealand and abroad," he said. "There was also a stunt rider, Matt Mingay from Australia, and a band.
"The rally has been 18 months in the making and since Christmas we've been going day and night."
Mr Stewart said a 100-kilometre thunder ride around the Manawatu region was held for members on Saturday morning and had about 800 bikes participating.
"The ride was hugely supported by the local population," he said. "There were people everywhere, it was a beautiful day for a ride and there was very positive communication about the region from people from out of town.
"Everywhere we went people were sitting outside ready to watch and at the rest homes there were people out in their wheelchairs, so it was just fantastic to see."
Harley Davidson ambassador and former All Black Josh Kronfeld borrowed a bike so he wouldn't miss out on the thunder ride.
"The local ANZA dealership let me use a bike so I could go on the ride because I had work the night before, so I flew down first thing and went for an amazing ride around the region," he said. "It's a real treat to check out all the amazing bikes and amazing people from different walks of life, which Harley Davidson attracts."
Wellington couple Gary and Kerry Mullins said it was good to see the public involvement.
"This is our big thing every year, our Christmas holiday," Mr Mullins said. "I've been riding Harleys for five years and I've seen more of New Zealand in those five years than I have in my entire life - it's a lifestyle."
Mr Mullins said the bikers in the Hog chapters of New Zealand were largely represented by older, working professionals.
"There is a lot of negative stereotype over bikies but we are the 99 per cent," he said.
This was the last year the rally was organised by one of the six chapters in New Zealand - next year it will be organised by a national event planner.