Southland Speed Sensation


This statue stands proudly near the front entrance to Queens Park in Invercargill, not far from the Southland Museum and Art Gallery (where the tuatara live). It was installed in 2011 to honour Burt Munro whose story was dramatised in the movie ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’. Burt was born on the 25th March 1899 at Edendale, a country town 30 kms north of Invercargill, New Zealand.

“McMillan Art bronze sculptor Roddy McMillan said he had been working fulltime for the past two years sculpting his bronze masterpiece.
The statue is 4.5m long and will  be about 7 per cent larger than real life. It features Munro crouching down in his 1920 Indian motorcycle, he said.”

from The Southland Times  Oct 11, 2011  Statue to honour Burt Munro


On the 26th August 1967 Burt claimed the World Record Class S-A 1000cc with an average speed of 184.087 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. This record still stands to this very day.

From Wikipedia I found that “Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year-old machine when he set his last record.”

Here is some information that I photographed at the Southland Museum about his achievements at Bonneville Salt Flats. It also explains why you may encounter some discrepancies in the precise speed when you read different sources. This info gives speed in kmh as well as mph.


In 1920 Burt had bought a standard model Indian Scout motorbike for $120 and he continued to modify it with his own custom-made unique parts for the rest of his life.

Quoting from my E Hayes and Sons brochure: “The Indian Scout had a 600cc side valve engine, acetylene lighting and was advanced for the time with a helical gear transmission, a mechanical oil pump working on a total-loss system and a top speed of 60mph.” … “He also designed and built the first of four ‘Streamliner’ aerodynamic shells.”

Photo below: statue detail, the logo on the side of the streamliner…


The following paragraph is from What happened to the World’s Fastest Indian? by MCN 03 Feb 2016

Model: It’s a universal misconception that the world’s fastest Indian was a 1920 Scout. “The Indian was actually a 1919 model,” says Burt Munro’s son, John. “But Burt bought it in 1920 so he always called it a 1920 model.”


Herbert (‘Burt’) James Munro died due to a heart condition on 6th January 1978, aged 78.

Following the success of the 2005 movie about Burt Munro’s inspirational life – “The World’s Fastest Indian”, the Southland Motorcycle Club created the Burt Munro Challenge to honour Burt, his ingenuity, determination, and love of speed and motorcycles… Read more at the Burt Munro Challenge website

This is an introductory post, there’ll be more posts to follow on this topic –Liz


Apart from the Links already provided above, I also sourced information from a brochure that I picked up from E Hayes and Sons, and a photo taken at Southland Museum as shown in the blog-post.

Text and Photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2018)

8 thoughts on “Southland Speed Sensation

Add yours

  1. A very nice presentation, thanks. I Thought I had heard all the stories around Indian cycles. It not like I ride but the Indian brand is a bit of an icon, especially in Connecticut.


  2. Benjamin and I spent quite some time reading all about Burt Munro with some editing by me to keep his attention. We went to the different links and he loved the actual 1920 Indian Motorcycle photos best. I have to ask his Father whether he knows about this enterprising man. A very patient and persistent man indeed. Thank-you for this post and we will be waiting for more. Thank-you x 2!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personally I’m not “into” motorcycles or mechanics, and most of my pics were taken during one visit to Invercargill. I’ve found it very difficult trying to get my info and photos into something coherant. I’ve learnt a lot though and eventually found it very interesting! I might even get Nigel to take me to the Burt Munro Challenge next year and soak in the atmosphere. Invercargill just gets taken over by motorcyclists and motorcycles and its quite surreal!


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