The rolling thunder has returned south for the 12th edition of the Burt Munro Challenge with hundreds of motorcyclists converging on Bluff for the Classic Motorcycle Mecca NZ Hill Climb on Thursday.

The hill climb champs kicks off four days of action with the Hirepool Twilight Drag Racing following on Thursday night, the Indian Motorcycle NZ Beach Racing Champs on Friday, the E Hayes & Sons Teretonga Circuit Races on Saturday followed by the Oreti Park Speedway Spectacular, and the Honda Invercargill Street Races on Sunday.

Bluff Promotions spokesman Lindsay Beer said the hill climb was great for the town with some motorcyclists going up and down the hill the day before the hill climb championships and hundreds checking out the town’s shopping and hospitality.

“It’s great to be part of the challenge.”

The growing crowd contributed to a great atmosphere on and around the hill with many spectators enjoying their first ever taste of the challenge and the Southland region.

First time challenge attendee Carene Jenkin had travelled from Katikati in the Waikato for the event,

“I am making the most of my trip to Southland by attending the Burt Munro Challenge,” Jenkin said.

Bill Swallow, a seven time Classic Manx Grand Prix winner, was competing in the Burt Munro Challenge for the first time

This is the furthest south Swallow has been who has travelled from the United Kingdom to attend the challenge.

“It’s good fun on the hill,” Swallow said.

Alongside the hill climb Swallow is also competing in the E Hayes & Sons Teretonga circuit races circuit races and Honda Invercargill street races.

Burt Munro Challenge chairman Wayne Affleck said the influx of motorcyclists on Wednesday night was amazing – with more than 500 staying at the Oreti Park rally campsite.

“We’re going to have a great weekend.

“Everyone seems to enjoy the rolling thunder here in town. It’s the smell, the look, everything.”

The rally brought a great bunch of people south for the four days, Affleck said.

“You’re more likely to find a doctor on a Harley than anyone else.”

Bluff School teacher Juliette Lyon said the whole school got to take in the hill climb action – juniors in the morning and seniors in the afternoon.

“They love it. We’re pretty lucky with the weather this year,” she said.

Food venders – including Food@Clifton’s Lana Padget – were flat out keeping hungry and thirsty rally-goers fed and watered - with businesses already enjoying the massive spike in trade the rally brings.