The Caterpillar Experience
Lindsay Willis, the man responsible for the New Zealand Caterpillar Experience, is a passionate kiwi, committed to the preservation of New Zealand heritage.
In 1974 he formed a forestry contracting business that allowed him to work, hunt, and use Caterpillar® bulldozers. His philosophy of “get in and do it” rather than talk about it, emphasises the kiwi “do-it-yourself” tradition. His determination has seen him develop innovative ways to perform forestry tasks. If you work in forestry today, chances are you’re benefiting from one of Lindsay’s ideas.
Lindsay became concerned that New Zealand machinery history was being lost as vintage equipment was scrapped, so he started saving as much as he could. As a spare time project Lindsay set about restoring a Cat 22. Soon his “hobby got well out of hand” and over a 10-15 year period he amassed a large collection of interesting vintage CAT machinery.
To share his love of machinery with the public, Lindsay had a 1500 square metre facility built in Rotorua to house and display the best of his collection. The new attraction was officially endorsed by Caterpillar Incorporated and Goughs NZ.
The New Zealand Caterpillar Experience was officially opened on 19 May 2006 when Lindsay cut the yellow ribbon with a razor sharp axe on a Totara post. Well known TV personality Gary McCormick entertained the large group of invited guests which included the Minister of Tourism, Wally Stone and Brian Hogan the Managing Director of Goughs. This memorable evening featured New Zealand themed cuisine and refreshments and the following day the doors were open for business!