Virus Buster Run – Planet Chopper
Planet Chopper is a motorcycle tour business founded by father and son Mark and Ben Van Leewarden from New Zealand. The company operates in The United States, New Zealand and India. Their motorcycle fleets include custom motorcycles, Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs and Japanese cruisers. Annual tours run to Sturgis, Route 66, and from the North to the South Island of New Zealand.
Planet Chopper has canceled their 2020 tours due to Covid-19, but has taken the situation in New Zealand and turned it into a positive by organizing the "Virus Buster Run" in 2021. They have pre-selected bars in 10 locations throughout New Zealand for riders to meet as they make their way to The Burt Munro Challenge, the world's southernmost motorcycle rally.
People are free to join for the entire trip or meet at the nominated bars. This 'Gypsy Run' style means that riders from anywhere in the country can join in. It's not just for motorcycle riders though, everyone is welcome to come to the bars.
Planet Chopper will run a raffle at each location and sell custom-made t-shirts designed by Jeremy Bennett, Art Director for the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, to generate donations for the Salvation Army's Foodbank Project.
The purpose of this run is to "twist the throttle on the economy" by bringing business to New Zealand's hard-hit hospitality and tourism sectors.
Given that international travel is not currently an option in New Zealand, this tour gives the motorcycle community something to look forward to, bringing riders together in a new and meaningful way.
With over 1,300 people interested in the event on Facebook, it seems to have resonated with riders and hospitality providers alike.
The company is looking to roll out a similar model in the USA towards the end of the year, which will start and end at their Roadhouse in Woodlawn, Virginia.