Invercargill's Transport World celebrates 70 years of the Kombi

Kiwis planning a post-lockdown road trip are being encouraged to consider a journey to the bottom of the South Island.

Invercargill's Transport World is celebrating 70 years of the classic Volkswagen Kombi. It's a German van that Kiwis love.

It's a tribute to one of the original motorhomes - this celebration of the VW Kombi finally cranking into gear.

"We're very very relieved that we can open the doors," says Transport World executive director Joc O'Donnell.

Lockdown forced the exhibition to be postponed from Easter. Like most of the country, Transport World was closed along with sister museum Motorcycle Mecca, and the company's Dig This attraction.

But excitement's been building on social media that the Kombis were coming to Invercargill.

"You know, they're pretty iconic. A lot of people have good memories of trips around Europe in the Kombi van," O'Donnell says.

That's exactly what a young Joc and her boyfriend Scott did on their OE travelling around in an orange Kombi.

"We sold it to buy the engagement ring, all those years ago," she says.

She became a passionate collector of Kombis but admits living in one wasn't always fun.

"It was quite claustrophobic. So Scott thinks it's a bit of a joke that I've become a collector of Kombi vans, after not enjoying the living conditions inside one," she says.

The iconic German VW campervans were also embraced by travellers back here, for the classic Kiwi road trip. Enthusiasts often getting together to show off their pride and joy.

Along with a lineup of colourful Beetles, the exhibition features a number of rare Kombis from the golden era. Most are in tip-top condition but a few have seen better days.

Mechanic Darren Robbie is another avid Kombi collector and enjoys tinkering under the hood of these classics.

"Very simple. Very easy to work on. And actually very reliable for their age," he says.

And with road trips back in vogue while our borders are closed, it's hoped some journeys will reach the deep south to check out the vehicles that started it all.