Motorcycles have roared out of the Ida Valley for the final time, leaving an eerie silence in their wake.
The 40th, and final, Brass Monkey Rally is over.
Queen’s Birthday Weekend was the rally’s swansong, drawing riders from every corner of the country and prompting those who had previously hung up their leathers to dust them off one last time.
Among the throngs of riders were those who finally got to attend their first Brass Monkey, knowing there would be no other chance.
As the rain set in and evening fell on the Idaburn Dam, Ken Gillespie’s 6ha slice of farmland and home to the rally was lit up by the biggest bonfire yet to grace the annual gathering of bikers.
A record numbers of riders organisers estimating between 4000 and 4500 the journey to the rally, an event known for its frigid temperatures but warm souls.
This year, temperatures were unseasonably warm, disappointing many hardy riders who had hoped to spin a yarn about frozen beer or engine oil turning to syrup.
However, despite the warmer weather, there were still many tall tales to be told of the road to the Ida Valley, as well as stories from the rallies of old.
The ride to the Brass Monkey was as much a rite of passage as the rally itself, with many taking days to get there.
For one group of Invercargill riders, a game of chance at every stop along the way was an opportunity to inject some yarns and laughter into the weekend.
Each would draw from a deck of cards and the lowest-scoring card would be given the honour of becoming a swimsuit model and wearing the tiniest of bikini tops under their leathers for the next section of the ride.
Solo or in a group, the final ride to the rally had to be made.
Wellington property manager Scott Jackson made the pilgrimage South for the third and final time solo.
He enjoyed the annual melting pot where there was “easy conversation” and you could never judge a person by their leathers.
“Nowhere else you get 4000 people in the same place with something in common,” he said.
“It’s just so ridiculous, and there’s something between 3000 to 4000 people here who think the same thing.”
For Brass Monkey Rally organising committee spokesman John Willems, the rally’s finale was not so much an anticlimax, as it was a bit of relief.
The stalwart had more than 30 rallies under his belt.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of work involved in setting these things up but I walked down the length, or nearly the length, of the road frontage here, just before and I thought amazing that I’m part of this event, it’s just huge’.”
“The numbers have blown us away,” he said.
“But it’s the same old thing when you tell people it’s the last of something effort to come.”
Against a backdrop of the bonfire, thousands of riders swayed to the sounds of rock, enjoying their last beloved Brass Monkey.
As the booze flowed and rally-goers’ heads banged, Stark Raving’s frontman offered a sage piece of advice, and a harsh reminder to attendees of one simple truth.
The Brass Monkey had aged and so had they.
“If it’s too loud, there are earplugs available at the shop .. Or you could just take your hearing aids out.”