Now that we have been confined to our own little island for the foreseeable future, Cindy and I decided that we needed to start touring the country instead of the normal cruising holidays that we have done for the past 10 years since retiring. We saw an advertisement in the paper offering three train journeys, along with some sightseeing in between, with a company called Endeavour New Zealand run by Pete Salvesen out of Christchurch. The trains were the Northern Explorer Auckland to Wellington, the Coastal Pacific Picton to Christchurch, and the Trans Alpine Christchurch to Greymouth.
After our meet and greet in Auckland City on a Sunday evening, Monday morning we arrived early and very excited to start our journey but appalled at the awful makeshift office made out of a shipping container that is Auckland Railway Station. This trip was greatly anticipated as we hadn't been on a long train journey before, and our hosts Pete, John and Dianna warmly welcomed us, and babysat us throughout the whole week, making the experience very easy.
Not knowing what to expect, we thought the Auckland to Wellington leg was a bit long, at 11 hours 20 minutes, but there was a great dining car which helped along the way, and saw some stunning vistas including the Raurimu Spiral and the Mangaweka Gorge. We had two stops where we could get off the train for five minutes and take a walk on the platform only, but definitely not leave it as dictated by the conductor.
We had one and a half days in Wellington, during which we had a guided ethnic food tasting tour and sightseeing for a morning, a visit to Te Papa to see the Gallipoli exhibition on our own, and the next morning a hastily organized guided tour of Parliament by ourselves, which was really enjoyed. The afternoon was spent on the Inter-islander on a glassy smooth Cook Strait, and the night in Blenheim. The next day a Marlborough Sounds cruise to visit a mussle farm, and taste fresh mussles. UGH!!!! but Cindy really enjoyed them and rated them the best she has had. The afternoon train trip down to ChristChurch was amazing, with totally different scenery, and only lasted around 6 hours. The Kaikoura section of this trip was spectacular running right along the coast, along with the unexpected sight of Lake Grassmere with it's salt ponds and hills.
The next day in Christchurch consisted of a tour of the Botanical Gardens, and an afternoon free to wander around with the supplied hop on-hop off tram tickets to view the Cardboard Cathedral, the Riverside Markets, and the beautiful Avon River running through the city. The evening was spent at dinner with our grandson who is at tech college down there.
Our last day was the train trip over to Greymouth through Arthur's Pass, and a mini bus trip back, which enabled us to see a different set of scenery from the train, before being dropped off at Christchurch airport for the trip home. Although it was only 6 days, we certainly saw a lot of the countryside we normally wouldn't see, and was one of the best value trips we have done.
We would highly recommend Endeavour New Zealand for their friendliness and professional approach to touring, and if you wanted to see what else they offer check out their website below. Ciao4now, regards Russell
Saturday February 13th I decided to check out round one of the NZ Stadium Off-Road Championships being held at the relatively new track at Colin Dale Park, out by the northern end of Auckland Airport. The fact a work colleague was racing his Pro-Buggy class racer there sealed the deal.
This is the same facility that also hosts the self-drive jet-sprint boats, where you get to have a go around the pond in a jet-sprint boat. There is also a moto-cross track behind the off-road track as well. My understanding of this facility is there are plans afoot to properly develop it into a dedicated motorsport park. Of course, if Auckland Council has any input into it, the land will probably be sold off for housing developments to the highest bidder… but I digress.
For now, it’s a work in progress but frankly, coming along nicely with good access and a sizable tar-sealed carpark already laid. This round was only the third time the off-road track had been used and the organizers got a large field of racers, in all manner of very confusing categories and classes. Even the juniors were catered for, with an > 14 year old class of, I think, 250cc buggies. Good to see the young ones being encouraged.
The racing was for the most part, fast and furious, with two main heats of no less than seven races each ranging from five to eight laps, then the semi-mains comprising another seven races, accommodating up to eleven different classes. How they keep track of all that going on, beats me! To confuse matters for me, several of the races had multiple classes racing together, with the fastest classes at the back… made for some busy times on-track for sure and great for the considerable number of spectators present. Never a dull moment, as they say.
Then there were two feature races basically featuring the fastest from the semi-mains, with four categories racing in the first feature and three in the second, including the outrageous Thunder-Trucks and only slightly less outrageous Pro-Lites and including drivers like drifter Mad Mike Whiddett and former NZ Rally Champion Andrew Hawkswood. And something like 21 laps for each feature!
The event itself was very well run, with virtually no delays between races other than the mandatory track watering – to try in vain to keep the dust at bay. All it did was make the track almost un-drivable for the first cars out on it, with many a resulting spin! My colleague Vince had a shocker, as it seemed every race he was in was just after!
I thoroughly enjoyed it, you could see at least 2/3rds of the track from spectator area, there were ample food/beverage vendors, even a licensed bar if you were so inclined, as well as sponsors hospitality areas with arguably the best vantage point to watch the action. Even the Portaloos were plentiful, clean, well stocked and within easy walking distance of the track and the pits. Speaking of the pits, these too were fully open to the public and worth a wander around. Some of the rigs of the top category racers were something else! The next round at the same venue is Saturday March 6th. Worth a look if you have no other plans, for sure. Rob Milligan
Club member Bill Hohepa features cars at Muscle Car Madness Rangiora, held on January 23-24, 2021
After attending the Orewa Rodders' Beach Festival for the last few years we decided to go down to the Cruize Martinborough in the Wairarapa for a change of scenery. It was 3½ days of pure car fun, although over 9 hours driving down in 35 degrees with no A/C or a working temp gauge was a challenge, so we stopped at the Tui factory to cool down!
Thursday; the cruise was to Lake Ferry on flat straight roads - bliss.. along with afternoon wine tasting (not on the official agenda) as there are over a dozen wineries within easy distance from town.
Friday; a cruise to Masterton and a car show at lunch time, then in the afternoon a short drive to the Motoplex for a ‘Drive’ on the drag strip. No times were taken as it was not an official drag outing but plenty of pedal to the metal as there was a flag drop to test how quick you can go, before heading back to Martinborough for an evening cruise to Greytown for drinks and dinner at the “Swan”.
Saturday; a car show in Martinborough town square, followed by a cruise and a car show/park up at the Tauherenikau Race course, which doubled up by holding the South Wairarapa country music festival. While a small number listened to the music, the majority watched the grasskana where some of the old cars had a blast in the farmer's paddock next to the parking. After a short interjection from a local, it was confirmed as an approved event and we continued to see a great selection of cars spinning around kicking up grass.
Sunday was the breakfast and prize giving which we missed as we left early. In total there were about 300 cars, so smallish compared to Beach Hop, Americana, and Orewa, but nice flat roads, along with meeting new people and seeing different cars was a plus.
Weather was cooler on the cruise days than the drive down, but it certainly didn't stop anything happening. The drive home was again hot and long and we stopped in Taupo to let the engine cool a little (new temp gauge in a container somewhere that was supposed to be installed before the trip). There was some powerboat racing on the lake, which was a bonus to see.
All in all we had a great time seeing different parts of this great country we have not been to before - I will not mention the low house prices compared to Auckland. Regards, Chris & Barb Baker
A stunning blue sky morning saw five club members turn up at the BP Service Centre Papakura for a run down to Thames – Peter & June (1975 Oldsmobile Delta) Fred & Diana (1962 Oldsmobile Starfire) Mark & Margaret (1966 Ford Thunderbird) Greg (1969 Buick Electra) Russell & Cindy (1957 Pontiac Star Chief). Just missing out on the departure time was Kerry (1962 Thunderbird) who put pedal to the metal and turned up shortly after our arrival at Thames Airfield.
Luckily Fred had bought along a gazebo, which was most welcome as the blazing sun was relentless, although there was a nice light southerly throughout the day. The tremendous variety of cars in the display area was surely overshadowed by the range and type of aeroplanes, some of which were truly spectacular. A NZ Navy Sea Sprite helicopter flew down from Whenuapai for the day, and this was constantly surrounded by fans young and old throughout the day.
The highlight of the day though was the air displays, which were truly spectacular and varied. These ranged from mock airfights between Red Baron/Snoopy type bi and tri planes, to formation and aerobatic flights, and the Warbirds aircraft. The displays just kept coming throughout the day as per the programme, and provided spectacular viewing against the deep blue skies.
It was certainly different to the normal car focussed shows we usually frequent, and was a joy to both car and aircraft aficionados alike. Well worth the lovely drive down to the Coromandel, and one that I would highly recommend for next year. Ciao4now, regards Russell
Having just moved into the Whangarei district and joined the Classic & Sports Car Club of Northland Inc my wife Val and I were both looking forward to our first club run with them in our Chevy Camaro. Our spirits were somewhat dampened by the dire weather predictions of the evening before “D” day, but from long experience of the weather gurus being consistently wrong we made all our preparations and woke on the morning to find it not looking too bad so off we set.
We fueled up at Mobil Kamo and then on to the meeting point. Around 7:45 we all set off in convoy, proceeding at measured pace without any issues in light traffic up SH1 turning off onto SH10 at Pakaraka. Further up we passed through the nearly completed new roundabout at Puketona carrying on through the equally new and near complete one at Waipapa, and a what a godsend that one is too, having lived there for 6 years plus without it, eventually reaching Kaeo where a short stop was made.
Somewhere about 9:45-ish we arrived at the Taipa show grounds. We found we had arrived early enough to park all together in a spot that was handy to a very convenient & welcome stand of trees where we established ourselves. Welcome because by now we had proof yet again of another total failure of the weather gurus it being a scorching, searing sun boring down mercilessly on any brave enough to venture out into it with barely a breath of wind. Over the next hour or so vehicles poured in to the site & an eclectic sampling they were indeed. British, American and European of most shapes, sizes, types and ages. Classics, Rods, Customs, Vintage/Veteran and some Neo stuff (bah, humbug). There was absolutely something there to appeal to just about any taste. By my reckoning about 200 or so in all.
Val & I strolled the rows admiring this and that, taking photos and sometimes chatting with owners. I was particularly taken with a home brewed ‘62 PA Velox 2 door, sedan, convertible. Very nicely done producing an especially stylish vehicle IMHO. Actually, I’m more of a fan of mid ‘30s to late ‘40s and even some 50s American iron, they being a nostalgic throw back to my largely misspent youth, no doubt. We wiled away the time with amusing banter, chatting about this and that interspersed with food and drink and forays to inspect more of the vehicles. A very pleasant interlude. All in all a great day undisturbed by the thunderous deluges and lightning predicted.
We departed a little early having an appointment with some very special doughnuts in Kerikeri that needed our concentrated attention before 3pm. Our luck was out as it transpired although I did get the last jam one to devour with my latte. Some delinquent behind the counter had sold our pre-ordered ones.
Rain, of a light and sporadic nature, did eventually catch us up during the trip back but it didn’t amount to a hill of beans. As a day out in our “special” car it was great. We met some gracious and friendly folk in a congenial circumstance and look forward to repeating the experience often on into the future. And for those weather challenged folk who misguidedly pinned their faith on the sagacity of the weather-clots, you missed a great outing.
Onwards to next time then and thanks to both the club and show event organizers.
We had a great day yesterday at the “All USA DAY” annual event at the ‘Classic Fliers Museum’ in Tauranga. There were approximately 300 cars on show and it was well supported by the public. So busy taking pics of some of the most stunning machines that I forgot to take one of mine. Did pick up the trophy for the ‘Best Survivor’ though. LOL.
I thought that perhaps you might like to share some of these photos with the Club Members and see if there is any interest to attend this event next year. It would be great to see you all down this way some time. Cheers Dave & Tania.
Every year for the past 5 years, Wheels Incorporated HotRod club has made the homage to Stay at Pacific Rendezvous Motel Resort, at Tutukaka just outside of Whangarai, for a weekend of cars and relaxation.
This year's run, as was last years, were for me to organise along with my sister, who is a member of the Whangarei Classic Car and Hot Rod club.
We left Auckland around 10-15am Friday 30th October with 63 people in approximately 25 cars, cruising to Ruakaka to meet a small group from Whangarei Club for lunch, and then onto the motel, to relax, talk cars (how much fuel did you use?) and admire the spectacular scenery of the peninsula.
Saturday morning we left Tutukaka at 9-30 to meet around 22 members of the Whangarei club, and cruise to The Old Parakao Store for lunch, followed by a look at some sheds.
The road trip to the Store was great, driving through lovely rural country side on lovely roads. The Store is a place that needs to be seen in person rather than reading about, and I could best describe it as something you would expect to find on the old Route 66.
With over 80 mouths to feed, the kitchen was a little swamped, but the food was good and they had also arranged a band for some entertainment for the afternoon, playing well known tunes of the 60’s and 70’s. In some ways it was a shame to leave to look at sheds, with many saying they were happy listening to the music.
Saturday night was spent by many watching the All Blacks beating Australia, and chilling out after the great day we had.
Sunday morning arrived all too soon, and we had to head back home. I have to give thanks to my sister Joanne Williams for organizing the Whangarei side of our trip, and I feel ACCCA would really enjoy an overnight stay up there also, which myself and Joanne would be happy to organize.
Below are some photos from the weekend and a short video from our visit to the Parakao Store.
Wow… how’s that… October 2020 already… hard to believe barely 6 months ago the country was going into our first Covid-19 Lockdown! What a crazy crazy year! And it’s not over yet. Covid hasn’t really gone – it’s just being arguably better managed – and as you read this we are about to head into, or had, our Nation’s rescheduled General Election, so you can be almost assured that 2020 hasn’t finished dishing out the surprises yet, for better or for worse.
Speaking of elections, you will be interested I hope, to know the outcome of our own Club Committee elections earlier this month? Firstly, a huge thank you for everyone that took the opportunity to have your say in a) how the Club is being run and b) by whom.
And the results are in! We had a voter turnout of a pinch under 60% of our membership, which is pretty darn decent really and actually even better than last year, which was also excellent. Your current committee, me included, have all been unanimously voted back in for another term, so big congrats to Russell, Dave, Phil O, Phil S, Peter, Carl and Allan. Well done team, thanks for having my back again for another year, the finest bunch of people to run this neat club of ours you’ll likely meet.
Dave Roper has prepared the Club financials again for the year, which you will find in the Members section of the Website. As you are all aware, this year has been quite the challenge health-wise for Dave, but he has come back strongly and is getting better by the day.
Thank you also to those of you whom took the opportunity to pass comment on our performance this year, which for the most part was very favourable, considering we really didn’t have opportunity to do a whole lot for a third of it! Awesome! Rest assured, we do take your comments on board and any suggestions, recommendations and constructive criticisms will be robustly discussed at our next scheduled committee meeting.
With regards to what happens in twelve months’ time, when we do it all again, it’s anyone’s guess. Peter Lee and Allan Huljich have both indicated this coming year will be their collective last on our committee, so we will be looking for new blood in 12 months’ time. We will also be looking at how we can do that, actually the whole electronic voting format to be honest, better than we presently are. It’s all evolution after all. Watch this space.
Which leads me nicely onto you guys – the members. Rest assured, nothing your executive does means anything at all without your continued support and encouragement. I mean that. We are only the providers in what we do as a Club. You guys are the real reason we are cracking along as well as we are in clearly quite unprecedented times. Without your continued membership, your continued enthusiasm for our Club, we would be in an entirely different place.
So a heart-felt thank you to all of you, from me and your committee. Cheers!
See you soon, Rob.
Father's Day Drags finally got under way on Sunday 4th OCT. It is always a well patronized event not only for spectators but very much for car and truck owners who get a chance to give their rides a thrash down the quarter mile. The Meremere Drag Strip team do a proper track preparation for the competitors, which is very important for equal lane grip and safety,
Some of the owners of the cars enjoying the open day have put a lot of money and engineering into their rides, with many easily doing the quarter in the 10sec bracket. With the faster ones doing it in the low 9 second time, we should not forget most of these vehicles are road legal. This year there were no dragsters doing demo runs.
It is now possible to buy a late model factory car that will easily do a mid 12sec quarter mile, this being the new Dodge Demon, and if you add the factory Drag Pack, for under USD 100k you have a very fast weekend quarter mile race car that you can drive for the rest of the week. With a factory warranty. Remember the Hertz Shelby 350 Mustang rental cars!
During the lunch break there is the skid pad show. This year only a supercharged Holden 1 ton Ute put on a very smoky show. Bogan heaven for sure.
You are free to wander through the pits and get up close with the people and cars, and It is interesting to get a close up view on how the cars are engineered and wonder about the costs involved.
The day is promoted by the Muscle Car Club and up to 80 of their club members are on duty throughout the day. If you have never been to a drag racing event, this is one to consider putting in your diary, as it is a very enjoyable day out. The only draw back is that it is rather noisy and the smell of burnt rubber takes a couple of days to get it out of your sinuses.