Passport – check, ticket – check, thermals packed – check, thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie attitude ready to be unleashed – check. Guess I’m ready for BMW M Town!
Recently, an advertising campaign was created to embrace the monumental features and thrills that BMW M cars deliver. With emotive headlines along the likes of “Too Loud, Too Low, Too Fast,” it cleverly welcomes many of the lip-smacking BMW M attributes we’ve grown to know and adore. You know, the things that make you go ‘Mmmmmm’.
Anyway, now this ethos and state of ‘M’ind has been brought to life, in the shape of M Town, a place “where too much, is just right”, and we were invited to the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds near Queenstown to find out more about it.
Before heading off on our adventure, I received a package in the mail. Inside was an M Town passport, granting me immediate citizenship. Finally, someone wanted me. The flight from Auckland to Queenstown was fairly routine, a few lumps and bumps but nothing for M Town’s newest intrepid local to be concerned about. The quick shuttle ride from the airport to my hotel (the QT) was in a BMW of course, the new X7 to be more precise. It was my first, albeit brief, up-close look at this new SUV. It’s big and bold with plenty of room for families and adventurers alike.
At check-in, I received our first (of several) visa stamps and no, I don’t mean my credit card. Specially made rubber stamps had been made to start filling up our new M Town passport with the day’s events, ‘Welcome to M Town’ leading the charge. Lunch was a smorgasbord of treats that were too tasty. From smoked salmon and hot meats to a rather well-stocked cheeseboard and all topped off with a variety of desserts that were just too sweet. Naturally, I ate too much, especially in light of what was to come.
The mini-bus ride to the wharf was way too short, (I actually should have walked), where I received my next stamp, ‘Welcome to water’. Kjet jet boats take river cruising to an all new level, so much so, it’s not a cruise at all. We more or less flew along the Kawaraa and Shotover Rivers, only slowing down enough to pirouette (I assume on purpose) multiple times as we went. The ride is too white-knuckle and I’m reliably informed that you can easily lose your camera or your lunch. Thankfully, I held on to both.
We moored somewhere downstream and almost immediately my next adventure arrived, ‘Welcome to helicopter air travel’. Watching a fleet of choppers land in a field was just too M*A*S*H for me and I started humming the theme tune as I ducked down low under the rotors to board. Helicopters are awesome but when set to the backdrop of the Queenstown mountain range, they’re just too Remarkable.
As the sun began to fall, we landed on the snow at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds. On top of a mountain, it’s a place where carmakers test their vehicles, a place where BMW hoon on ice and a place, that, in many ways, was M Town Centre. Welcome to M Town on Ice. I got my stamp, I got my race suit, I got a look at the impressive range of M cars and then I got to look at the temperature—Too Hot.
The evening’s events were going to be Too Epic. M Town videos were going to be projected onto the side of the pure white snow-clad mountainside with loud music booming all around. Landing strip lights were to pave the way as we were to slalom and drift BMW’s most powerful range of M cars to date through frozen snow and ice. There were to be wheels spinning, engines roaring, even fireworks. The mouthwatering list of what was going to happen went on and on. However, the snow itself didn’t.
In what was reported to be a ‘once in a who knows what year’ freak weather pattern, the temperature on top of the mountain was too warm and not enough snow made it too dangerous, even for us M Town petrolheads. Therefore, the night-driving, snow-filled frivolities were, alas, cancelled.
The disappointment was, of course, huge, but our M Town spirit was larger. BMW rallied around and immediately devised a plan B. Rather than be shuttled, we were to drive the range of M cars to our dinner venue, oh yeah. From coupes to SUVs, M5s to X5Ms and my first look at a couple of M8s hard and soft top, they were a sight to behold. But with the moon rising and the mercury falling, I opted for the obvious one: the M8 convertible. Top down, heaters on (including the one on my neck) and Vanilla Ice blaring, I headed down the mountain—Too Cool.
Dinner was at The Hills clubhouse (of Michael Hill fame). Our sumptuous dining experience of fine cuisine was devised and catered by Josh Emett and his team. Duck was the theme and Too Delicious was the result. Then finally chauffered back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest before heading home.
Alright, so some would say that technically M Town isn’t a real town—yet. But, I put it to you, isn’t there a bit of M Town in all us petrolheads? In the right place and at the right time, don’t we all want to go Too Fast, be Too Loud and be Too Wild? Our M Town adventure was as thrilling and involved as all M adventures should be. Sure we didn’t get to drive on ice at night, but I would say that after listening to what BMW had planned, maybe it wasn’t the freak weather that melted the snow, maybe the M Town experience was just Too damn HOT.