During the March this year, I was fortunate to participate in a charity fund raising event, aptly called Bangers to Bluff. As the name implies this involved driving an older car from Auckland to Bluff, selling the car when the event finished and donating the proceeds to charity.
A banger was defined as any car that was registered, warranted, and was purchased for $2,000 or less. I was in a group of three people and we purchased a tidy four cylinder 2006 Toyota Camry with 197,000km on the clock for $2,000. There were 17 Bangers entered and 41 participants. The oldest Banger was 1988 and the newest 2006, and interestingly 5 of the17 bangers were Toyotas. On the trip only one car broke down, due to a faulty alternator which was quickly and easily fixed.
The trip was well organized, and we took 11 days to travel to Invercargill with interesting stops along the way. The trip was set up so that the largest towns we stayed in were Wanganui and Invercargill and we avoided the main highways whenever we could. We very much took the scenic route, travelling 2,900 km from Auckland to reach Bluff. We stayed in pleasant middle of the road motels and each day started with a briefing of the various highlights for that day.
The first day was from Auckland to Te Kuiti, where we had a Fred Dagg theme evening there. The second night was in Wanganui, and our third stop where we spent two nights was in Martinborough. This is a lovely town with lots to see and do, and it also helped staying at the Margrain vineyard. The next day we proceeded via ferry to Blenheim, and as you know the ferry service over Cooks Strait the past 6 months can only be described as incompetent and hopeless. We had a six hour delay that meant we did not get into Blenheim until 1.30am the next morning.
The next day was one of the highlights of the trip, driving the 180km over the Molesworth track to Hamner Springs. This road is only open for three months of the year, and it is fairly rough but quite passable in a modern car. We had a glorious day as well. Those that have not done this, I highly recommend it, as this was the first time for me. The next day was a leisurely drive to the mid Canterbury town of Geraldine, and the following day it snowed as we travelled to Mt Cook to stay at The Hermitage. On the way, we stopped at Fairlie, where there is a great pie shop. I keep my 1939 Chev there, so it was a good opportunity to show group members the car and to take it for a drive in the snow.
The next stop was Oamaru, over the snowy Dansey’s Pass. The road had been closed over the previous night but reopened at 10.30am, so there was very little traffic on it, and this is another iconic New Zealand drive. It is very scenic travelling through Central Otago to Oamaru, from where we headed to Balclutha. From Balclutha we drove to Invercargill and hence Bluff via another scenic road through the Catlins. Our end destination was Invercargill where we spent two nights.
The trip was a lot of fun with great people. There was a large amount of socializing in the evenings, with high tolerance to alcoholic drinks required. We had a lot of fun along the way, and each town we stayed in had their own unique attractions. We raised close to $90,000 for charity, which was a huge success.
This trip has now become an annual event for the Rotary Club of Half Moon Bay, here in Auckland. They keep it to under 20 cars, which means it is still a relatively small group. It is well organized, and next year’s trip is filling up fast.
I strongly recommend it, and plan to do it again in either 2025 or 2026.
If any club members are interested in this, please do not hesitate to give me a call. All the best. Cheers William