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It's a wrap as Top Gear's NZ race secrets revealed

Published: 7:01AM Wednesday March 13, 2013 Source: ONE News

They've done their dash and are already speeding away to the next assignment, but ONE News can now reveal the top secret details surrounding the filming of Top Gear.
And they do not involve some flash high-speed machine, but a car familiar to many New Zealanders.
Far North locals are now happy to spill the beans about what the hit BBC show did in their neck of the woods.

A race up Ninety Mile Beach was re-staged today to get all the important aerial shots from a helicopter, after Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson raced for real in a red Toyota Corolla hatchback yesterday evening.

Clarkson and co-host James May were this morning spotted at Kerikeri Airport, with Top Gear's top secret filming mission in New Zealand completed.

Pineaha Murray can laugh about it - he was in on the whole thing.

He and 40 or so Ngati Kuri were at Spirit Bay in the Far North when the Top Gear race ended.

"My job was to finish the race and the time, with a blessing," he said.

"We had to hide ourselves because we couldn't be seen to be in the environment. So we were hiding there making out that we weren't there."

ONE News understands the race started on the Coromandel Peninsula. On the water was America's Cup yacht Oracle with May onboard, pitted against Clarkson in a red Toyota Corolla hatchback on the road, via Ninety Mile Beach.

Dave Spicer runs a sand surfboard business, Ahikaa Adventures, at the north end of the beach. He caught some of the action after he finished work last evening.

"I just got the tail lights of their vehicles. They were going along quite quickly, but it looked like it was good fun," Spicer told ONE News.

Clarkson drove a further 20 kilometres to Spirits Bay, arriving about an hour after Oracle berthed.

Pineaha said the car became bogged in the sand at the end.

Local Maori are grateful for the BBC's visit.

"We thanked them for putting us on the map really. And for them to come here with all their machinery, the BBC, you know to us is just like seeing the first icecream I suppose," Pineaha said.

Top Gear's New Zealand adventure essentially ended with a late night powhiri and a steak and salad meal at Te Tapua Marae.

The show's two stars didn't make the feast but in the local area, Top Gear is "top shelf" said ONE News reporter Paul Hobbs.