I know that I’m a few weeks behind with this post (and the next couple), but better late than never, right?
Leaving Wellington, the Fiesta was loaded onto the Ferry and we travelled back to Picton, where we were straight on the road down to Omaka.
Once arriving in Omaka, we stopped into the Omaka Classic Cars collection. Composed over over 100 vehicles, the museum features cars from the 1950s right through to a late model Jaguar. All the vehicles in the collection were in superb shape and the owners claim that with very minor work each and every vehicle would happily drive the length of New Zealand without issues.
The main part of the collection is housed in a massive shed with plenty of natural light, so you get optimal viewing experiences on some of the amazing vehicles housed in this collection.
Let’s start with a car that I own, maybe not quite this spec – but close enough! A Mk2 Cortina 1600E, with the E representing “Executive” trim – including that gorgeous wood paneling. This car also included the black vinyl webasto (folding) roof. The roof would be great for a hot summer’s day in this wine-growing region!
The next car that I spent time drooling over was this red Jaguar XK150. Wire wheels, that old-leather smelling interior and the little shifter make this another car that I’d love to add to my collection. I really must by a lottery ticket this weekend, haha! This car was originally purchased by the manager of a Tea Plantation in Malaysia, before he shipped it to the USA when he retired. In 1995 it was eventually imported to New Zealand.
We then move on to this super-clean first generation Honda Accord. With just 87,000 kilometers on the odometer, the exterior and interior condition was in tip-top condition. It almost looked like it factory fresh. I’d suspect that this was a local car (assembled in the Nelson Assembly Plant), that’s spent it’s life in the Nelson region.
The final feature car of the main shed was this little Datsun 160J SSS. A 1974 car, this SSS was in great shape. These have become such a rare commodity here, as most have experienced some very terminal cases of rust. Featuring independent rear suspension and twin carbs, this little 1600 was a fun and exciting car to drive. I’ve never driven one, but would be pretty interested to see how this performs to my 1975 2L Capri, as I’m sure they were targeted at the same demographic.
A couple of period posters and signs were dotted around the place.
Moving out to the rear garages, I spotted this Mk4 Cortina station wagon. A very practical car, this would have either been used as a company vehicle, or as a family wagon when it was new. Ford were pushing their bold and bright colours in the 70s and I’m sure that this wouldn’t have looked out of place in it’s startling yellow! The interesting fact about this particular car is that it was an Australian-assembled car, which featured the massive 4.1L straight-six motor. Perfect for towing the family caravan!
Next up was this 1988 Volvo 240GL (Grand Deluxe). Opening and closing the doors on this car is probably the highlight and trademark of this car, making that solid bank-vault door sound, somewhat reminiscent of my old S-Class Mercedes. The boxy-shaped 240 was never a pretty car, but it’s got that unique Sweedish flavour that just eeks cool. Plus, it’s got some very well-padded interior seats. Road-trip anyone?
In the same shed was this 1994 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint, modified by Ford’s high-performance turning partner, Tickford. The Tickford name has only just rememerged at the end of 2017 and they plan on creating some enhanced Rangers and Mustangs for the Australian & New Zealand market. The XR8 Sprint featured modified heads, a bigger air intake and an ECU tune to produce about 16% more power than a standard XR8. Having travelled just 130,000kms, the interior and exterior of this car was in very good condition. There were 3 Sprints in the collection, but this one featured a 5-speed manual transmission. As a child that grew up with a number of Falcons, the interior and styling of this Falcon brought back some great memories.
For a privately owned collection, Omaka Classic Cars was a massive surprise, as I wasn’t expecting so many clean, original and genuine cars, that all had a story to tell. As a growing collection, I’m excited to see this again in the future. A must-see for anyone in the area.
Leaving Napier, we travelled back in the direction of Wellington – heading for the Southward Car Museum. Taking around 4 hours to make the journey, we travelled mostly on State Highway 2 – where you’d normally jump onto State Highway 3, but the road was closed in July 2017 due to a large slip. Due to geological movement in the area, this road has been closed indefinitely. Instead, we crossed the bridge over the Manawatu River, and turned down Gorge Road. Man… were we in for a treat! The Fiesta was the ideal car for the road, with a very narrow, tight & twisty section of road that had you working your hands and feet constantly as you scanned the road ahead. I lost count of the number of 2nd to 3rd changes that the Fiesta did, but it was so much fun trying to hit apex after apex and maximise your entry and exit out of each and every corner. Gorge Road eventually turns into Pahiatua Aokautere Road, which leads into Aokautere – or you can turn left once reaching here and continue down State Highway 57. It’s a must-hit next time I’m in the area again.
The Southward Car Museum is owned by Sir Len Southward, who began collecting cars in 1956. After many years collecting cars, this passion had turned into a full-time venture, and in 1979, Len opened the collection to the public in its current site. Sitting on 6 hectares of land, just off State Highway 1, the building was huge and dwarfed the Fiesta in comparison. Stepping out into the 30+ degree day did mean you were instantly sweating and making a dash to try and get yourself into some kind of shade.
Before we entered the building, a Ferrari 308 GTS pulled up under the canopy at the front – with a couple of the employees having just detailed the car and pulled it out to get some decent photos for their own website. I love the interiors of these old Ferrari’s – every component from the leather-wrapped handbrake to the switch-gear, through to the detail in the leather on the seats is just perfection. Then there’s that gated shifter!
Stepping inside the building, they had a few vehicles on display in the foyer. These included the very rare Carver One. I remember seeing one of these originally tested on Top Gear back in 2002 and both Richard Hammond & Jeremy Clarkson both thought it was such a cool vehicle to drive. The Carver leans into corners and is capable of 185 kilometers an hour. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt in 2009 and ceased production. The other car on display was a Corvette Z06, which has a number of Z07 options. It was originally owned by a Doctor in the United States, before it was exported to New Zealand. It’s currently on display, but officially for sale if anyone is interested.
The main floor of the museum contained a number of varied makes and models spanning the last century. It’s hard to write about what was actually there, as there were so many spectacular cars that we’d all be here for weeks if I tried to document everything of significance. Instead, I’ll try my best to just show a handful of my favourites.
Let’s start with my favourite car on this floor, the Tatra 77A. The 77 was first produced from 1934-1935 in Czech Republic, with the 77A being produced from 1935-1938. The claim to fame with the T77, is that it’s the first serial-produced truly aerodynamically designed automobile. The car features a rear-mounted “hemi” V8 engine and used large amounts of lightweight magnesium alloy in the construction of this engine, as well as in the transmission, suspension & body of the car. The T77 even had independent rear suspension – something that the Ford Mustang has only just adopted in recent years, haha!
The rear wall of the main floor contained a number of high performance Japanese cars, from all makes and marques. One of my favourites was the Mitsubishi GTO, I always hankered after one of these when I was a young teenager. The GTO featured four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics (which adjusted the front & rear spoilers) and an adjustable sports exhaust.
It’s a pity that with the NSX, GTO & Supra, all models on display were automatics. It was good to see that the museum has continued to evolve and is starting to collect vehicles that appeal to both young and old visitors.
Below are a few shots from the main floor, including the genuine rally car that Ken Block used when he competed in the New Zealand winter rally in 2007. The Subaru Impreza STI (pictured), features factory lightweight items such as thinner door glass and an aluminium boot lid. At the completion of the rally, Ken used the car to do some stunts with the DC Shoes snowboard team at Snow Park. During one jump, Ken hit the ramp a bit too fast and over-shot the landing, which cracked his L2 vertebrae and nearly destroyed the car.
The next three cars are impressive pieces of machinery from each of the respective companies heydays. They’re the ultimate examples of luxury and extravagance.
1. Luxury and exuberance featured heavily with the Cord 810 Roadster. Featuring a 4.7L V8 engine & 4-speed electrically-selected semi-automatic gearbox, the Cord produced a whopping 125bhp! The Cord Corporation set out to produce cars with innovative technologies, believing they would sell well and turn a profit. The Cord 810 was one of the first American cars produced as front-wheel drive.
2. The stunning Chrysler Airflow Sedan, which featured a 4.9L inline 8-cylinder engine and 3-speed manual gearbox. When the car was being designed, Chrysler had a wind tunnel built so that they could test the aerodynamics of the car. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t a success with the public as nobody was yet ready for such an exotic shape & sales were slow, which eventually led Chrysler to pulling the pin on the Airflow (as well as it’s sister car, the DeSoto Airflow).
3. The Lincoln-Zephyr was produced by Ford from 1935-1942. It featured a 4.4L V12 engine and 3-speed manual gearbox, which was capable of 140 kilometers an hour. The Lincoln-Zephyr was one of the first streamlined cars and was produced to compete with the likes of the Chrysler Airflow & actually had a lower coefficient drag than it’s competitor.
One of the more unique cars was this interesting looking Dodge Coupe, with the body being made out of copper. The Dodge is a 1920 and was brought new by Mr Philip Lewis of Auckland, who then transformed the car by adding the new bodywork beaten out of copper and brass. The bodywork took 1,000 hours to complete and the car made its public debut in the Queen Street Christmas Eve parade of 1921 in Auckland.
From here, I ventured down to the basement level – where there were another assortment of interesting and varied cars.
My favourite car from the basement, the NUS Ro80. Released in 1967, the Ro80 won many awards, such as car of the year and motoring journalists were showering the brand with praise. It featured a 1L Wankel (rotary) engine, was front-wheel drive, had four-wheel disc brakes and superb suspension.
However, as good as the Ro80 was, it made NSU broke. The demand for the Ro80 was so great, that initially, there was a waiting list for potential owners. All of this crumbled though, when the rotary engine began to have a fearsomely short lifespan. Some engines lasted just days before they’d die, and few cars did more than 50,000 kilometers on their original engines.
The standing joke was that if you were driving an Ro80 and saw another, you’d not wave, but instead hold up the number of fingers that corresponded to how many engine you’d gone through.
1. The Japanese Prince Skyline was first launched in 1957, with lots of chrome trim, aiming to look like it’s American counterparts – such as the Chevrolets. They were also produced as 5-door station wagons. In 1966 the Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan and Nissan has continued to produce the Skyline since – now being one of Nissan’s most famous and loved cars.
2. A car that I’ve nearly brought a couple of times, the Reliant Scimitar. The one pictured is a GTE, which stands for Grand Touring Estate and was designed to be able to transport four adults in high levels of comfort over vast distances, with it’s huge fuel tank. It featured the 3L V6 Ford engine, which was used in cars such as the Capri. The Scimitar was a light car as it featured a fibreglass body on a steel chassis, making it capable of 0-100kph in 8.6 seconds. That’s still quick, even by today’s standards.
3. The Trekka, produced by the New Zelaland Motor Holdings company. 2,500 of these were produced and they featured a Skoda Octavia engine and drive train. The Trekka was lauched at the end of 1966 as an agricultural vehicle, but became popular with both rural buyers and urban tradesmen. Production eventually ended in 1973. It’s remembered for the unlikely success of its low quality manufacturing and simple design, which generally suited the purpose for which it was made. The Trekka is the only vehicle designed and manufactured in New Zealand to have entered commercial production for an extended period.
Below is the Ford GT ‘Consul’ Mk1 Cortina. The very first Mk1 Cortinas, were actually Consul Cortinas, which is how you can differentiate the very early cars. This car was imported by the Ford Motor Company of New Zealand for the Southward Lesco Racing Team to compete in the first 6 hour race at Pukekohe Raceway. Once imported, it was run in from Monday evening to Saturday morning, clocking up a whopping 4,800 miles! The engine was then completely stripped, checked & reassembled by Frank Hamlin and Kerry Grant and then driven through to Auckland to compete in the race.
It finished first in the price index and second overall, averaging 63mph. Since then, the car has done over 90,000 miles and hasn’t had the head off since before the race. A true piece of Kiwi history.
My final pick for the day is the Toyota Sera, which was Toyota’s first entry in the domestic market for novelty cars that was flourishing in Japan in the early 90s. The Sera was based on the Toyota Starlet and featured a 1500cc engine, gull-wing doors and a sleek body. Only 15,000 cars were produced, when Toyota wound up production in 1993. The Sera was never officially imported into New Zealand as it didn’t comply with our safety standard, but this car was imported by Toyota New Zealand to be used a show car and has since been donated to the Southward Museum by Toyota NZ.
Over the years, a number of private parties have imported cars into the country and every now and then one will come up for sale. A pretty unique car.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit through the museum and could have happily spent another few hours wandering around examining all of their exhibits.
Up early on Monday morning, we hit the road for our first destination of the day, the British Car Museum, just out of Napier.
His claim to fame with the British Car Musuem is that it is the largest collection of British vehicles in the world. The owner, Ian, told me that he doesn’t know of any other collection, this size, in the world with only British vehicles. He’s constantly adding to the collection too, with a number of cars purchased in recent months.
There sheer number of cars was staggering and Ian has many stacked and racked throughout the venue. Just about every car sitting on floor level was supported by axle stands. The local auto store must love him!
Two of Ian’s favourite cars in the museum. The first is his Jaguar S Type, which he brought brand new in 2003 and has since only done 8,000 kilometers in. It was like new. The other was his 1963 Mini, which was his first ever brand new car – purchased soon after he has completed his apprenticeship as a youngster. The Mini wasn’t in ‘factory’ condition, but all the modifications were done soon after he purchased it, including the chrome down the side and also the spats that he had made and painted up for the rear wheels.
Another interesting vehicle was this Rover 75, which had been gifted by a guy in the UK before his passing. Ian had to pay to have the car shipped over from the UK & also had to pay some import taxes back here, so it certainly wasn’t the cheapest. I’m sure the previous owner will be pleased that his car is in such a nice collection now.
Aside from just cars in the museum, Ian had lots of other little collections going on. A number of the vehicles had period magazines, brochures & advertisements sitting on their bonnets for you to look at. Some of these classic magazines were pretty interesting. I even managed to find an original road test of the Mk2 Cortina:
I also found this magazine with the Honda Aerodeck on it. The Aerodeck was a 2-door Honda Accord, in shooting-brake guise. Sold between 1986 & 1989, it’s no wonder that we don’t ever see these on the road. Before reading the article below, I hadn’t heard of this car, let alone seen one in the flesh – but I was intrigued because of just how unusual & rare it is. The Wikipedia page provides a little more information for those that are interested. Upon checking the license plate, the car featured in the article was still in use in 2016 with a recorded 233,000 kilometers. Between 2014 – 2016 it looked as though the car was averaging 140 kilometers each day, so suspect it’s still going strong today, possibly with 326,000 kilometers if the current owner kept to his recent form!
We then popped upstairs, where Ian demonstrated a couple of his player pianos. These are usually powered by foot bellows, but the one pictured Ian had re-powered with an old vacuum cleaner that could blow air out. This saved him having to pump the foot bellows. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the largest collection of musical rolls in New Zealand – he said that there’s still a company he can buy them from in the US. He had me search through one of the stacks, where I eventually located the ‘Invercargill March’, which he proceeded to have the piano play itself for us.
Another interesting segment in the Museum, is his collection of over 38 Morris Minors – most of which are in some shade of green. Each of the Morris Minors features a window sheet, with the name of one of his great nieces or nephews. He told us that this will stop them squabbling over which car they get when he passes.
Pictured above are his large number of car manuals and his massive license plate collection. He has tried to assemble all New Zealand license plates from the conception of registration. He explained that originally you received a license plate every year when you registered your car, whereas, now we keep the same plate and just insert our new registration license in the window cards of our car.
Ian was a great wealth of knowledge and truly passionate about his collection. Thanks for sharing this with the public, I hope to come back and visit in another couple of years.
The main event for the weekend, the wedding, was on Saturday afternoon at 2pm. Since we had a few hours to kill, we thought we’d head to the waterfront in Wellington and also visit the renowned ‘Te Papa’ museum.
As you can see from the photos above, the weather turned it on and we had some pretty hot temperatures. We were a little early for the museum, so decided to check out some of the local shops. Pictured below is my uncles Tony & Gurv, as well as Dad – posing by the Cuba sign down Cuba Street.
After a bit of shopping, the musem had opened, so we returned. At the moment they’re running an exhibition called ‘brickman wonders’, which is like lego heaven. They’ve had a bunch of master lego designers/creators, assemble these amazing pieces of artwork. Well worth the $20 a ticket we paid to get in. Here are some of my favourites:
The wedding was a pretty entertaining event, with my cousin, Josh, opting to sing his vowels in a song mashup. Can’t say I’ve seen that one before! After the ceremony was over, we headed back to the reception venue for a few hours before Josh & his new wife, Tarsh returned from their photos. This was followed by dinner, speeches & what the MC kept referring to as ‘the last dance’ – we had a good laugh when he accidentally called it that a few times!
The following morning (Sunday), we were pre-booked for a parliamentary tour. Our hotel wasn’t far from parliament, so we left the car behind and walked down.
The ST sitting street-side for the day, as it was left at the hotel.
The parliament buildings, with the left-hand building named ‘the beehive’. It obtained this name after the architect made a small-model to demonstrate what it would look like out of a packet of ‘beehive’ matches. Unfortunately, we were unable to take in any phones, cameras, hats etc. as you have to go through rigorous safety checks, like you would at an airport. Dad set off a few alarms and had his “multiple” pocket knives he carries removed!
After the tour, we headed back to the waterfront, as we were catching up with Dad’s side of the family for a bit of lunch before everyone started leaving town again. We had a reservation at one of the bars, Macs, that overlooked the waterfront. The inside of Mac’s bar & restaurant was an eclectic mix of furniture and ornaments.
The waterfront was packed for a Sunday afternoon and they were a huge number of people “sea diving” into the water. Looked like great fun!
It was good to spend a few hours with Dad’s side of the family, as we don’t often get to catch up. The only person missing was Dad’s youngest sister, Sandra, who couldn’t make it. Pictured below (left to right) is Tony, Brendon, Nana, Michelle, Dad & Poppy. There was a few of us kids & grandkids at lunch as well, so it was good to catch up with everyone.
We said goodbye to everyone around half four and departed ways. As Tony & Gurv were staying at the same hotel as us, we all decided to head out for dinner. In the end we settled on Malaysian and I ordered the chicken curry. Was something a bit different.
I’m going to need to go on a serious diet at the end of this holiday… Stay tuned, plenty more to come.
On Saturday 27th January, my cousin Josh is getting married. Back when we were younger, Josh lived with us for a few years, so I’m closer to him than most of my other cousins. He sent the invite out last year and so I decided that Id take a week off work and use the wedding as an excuse to road trip the Fiesta through to Wellington.
Dad decided to join me for the trip, so we left Invercargill about 9am on Thursday morning. I had previously booked accomodation in Christchurch for the night, so we knew that we only had to cover 600 kilometers for the day. Pretty easy going, really.
After a rather hot, sleepless night in Christchuch (as they had a 30 degree day), we were up early and on the road at 6.30am. We wanted to leave a little early, so that we could beat rush hour traffic in Christchurch and to also make sure that we left enough time for the journey. If State Highway 1, through Kaikoura wasn’t open, then we’d need time to make about a two hour detour through the artic triangle. I haven’t driven the arctic triangle since I originally brought the ST back in 2016. Luckily, the road was open, but with the roadworks still in full-swing, there was probably about an hours delay all up.
It’s the first time I’ve driven the road since the major earthquake hit at the end of 2016. I’ve seen plenty of news articles and looked at plenty of images, but honestly didn’t realise quite how much devastation had been caused by the quake. Roads, bridges, and train tracks had literally disappeared under rubble that had fallen from the surrounding hills.
At the time, Kaikoura was completly blocked off, from both North and South, with supplies having to be helicoptered in. It’s taken a long time for the roads to be reopened and the hard working teams still have a long way to go, but they’ve made some impressive progress.
Eventually we made it all the way through to Picton and arrived with a little bit of free time to have some lunch before we had to be at the ferry terminal. I settled for a steak, bacon, and cammenbert cheese pie and washed it down with a bottle of diet coke. The perfect Kiwi lunch!
I noticed a little Ice Cream Parlour across the street, so we visited for a quick sweet treat before hitting the road. I grabbed a two-scoup cup of dark chocolate!
We boarded our Ferry, the Bluebridge, and parked the ST between a few larger commercial and camper vehicles. It’s pretty small in comparison.
Heaps more planned for the weekend. Stay tuned!
Honda Civic Kilometers:
My younger brother, Ryan, was on the hunt for a new car. Ryan’s only a one-car kind of guy, so the car needed to be practical and easy to use around town, as well as have the capability to go away on longer trips. His only requirement over his old car, was that the new one needed a working heater. A must-have kind of item, especially during a chilly winter in Invercargill!
We found a really tidy and presentable 2006 Honda Civic S Sport for sale, at a local dealership. After having a bit of a chat with the salesman, we tee’d up a test drive. The salesman told us that the car had previously belong to a retired gentleman who, in the end, was becoming too old to drive and his family decided that it would be best to sell the car. Good news for us, as the interior of the car is in superb condition and the car has only seen 87,000 kilometers over a 12 year period.
The car all cleaned up by the dealership in the first shot and Ryan looking chuffed with his purchase in the second!
A few shots of the car after leaving the dealership. My favourite part of the car has to be the unique digital speedometer at the top of the gauge cluster. How cool is this?
The day after purchasing the car, we decided to jump in and take it for a trip out of town to get some lunch at a cafe. We had driven the car briefly on the open road during our test drive, but were eager to see how the car performed with four people and a full tank of gas weighing it down. I’ve got to admit, that the little 1.8L SOHC motor performs really, really well. As it’s his daily car and it’s for a specific purpose, he wanted an automatic. The 8th generation Civic came with the new 5-speed automatic box, which, as an option, you could get the sport gearbox – meaning you also got flappy-paddles behind the steering wheel. The gearbox is super smooth and slick and does a good job of finding the right gear for the right stretch of road. Plus, if you want to have a bit of fun, you flick it down a couple of gears and get the motor up into VTEC for that extra bit of kick.
The first stop on our trip had us looking at a lifeboat in Colac Bay that was recovered from in Foveaux Strait back in 2012. It made national news back then and appeared to have fallen off a Greek bulk shipping carrier, although nobody actually knows when.
Since my last visit, a few years back, it’s now been turned into accommodation – and they’ve added an outdoor kitchen back in November 2017. As you can see from the photos, it’ll sleep a few people. A unique place the spend the night, I’m sure! You’ve got to sign the guest book if you stay. Feel free to check out their Facebook page.
It looks out onto the ocean too, which is a nice bonus. Dad, Ryan & his girlfriend, Loren are pictured.
Our next stop along the trip was a small seaside village, called ‘Cosy Nook’. Cosy Nook was once a bustling trading centre and had boats coming in and out in the 1700s. Now it’s a tiny little village with only about 3 or 4 cottages. If you drive to the end of the lane, you can park you car and climb up a little hill behind to get some decent photos.
Ryan was kind enough to let me take the wheel from here and I got to take the car for about the next fifty kilometers of the twisty stuff. The little 1.8 was eager to rev out and kept us comfortably at the speed limit. The steering wheel is superb and with a decent rake/reach, means you can get it comfortably where you need it.
The next stop was Monkey Island. I’ve visited before, but never been able to actually get onto the small island as the tide has always been in. The mainland around here is open to freedom campers and since we’re in the middle of summer, there were heaps of tents, caravans and campers around the area. We climbed to the top and I managed to snag a few photos.
From here, we journeyed on and stopped at Orepuki Beach Cafe for some lunch. The place was humming with visitors on a warm Saturday and we all had a decent feed. As you can see in the pictures below (credits to TripAdvisor & Google Maps), you can see the place before it was turned into a great little cafe. The first picture was from 2010.
Ryan’s pretty rapt with his new car and plans on keeping it for the next decade. No doubt it’ll appear on here many times over the coming years.
Stay tuned next week, as I depart on a 3,000-odd kilometer roadtrip to my cousin’s wedding!
Being the middle of Summer in New Zealand and having a few days off work after the Christmas and New Years break, we decided that we’d catch up with Robbie & Nathan who were staying at the Alexandra Camping Ground.
With a leisurely start, we left home around half eight and headed to Alexandra via Gore. It was a pretty sedate trip, as during the holiday break there’s a zero speed tolerance enforced by the police – which is to try and reduce the number of fatal road accidents during these periods. I found it mildly entertaining that when driven gingerly, the Fiesta will happily consume a measly 5.3L per 100km.
After arriving, we caught up with Nathan & Robbie for a bit and then Nathan whipped up some burgers on the BBQ for lunch.
Once we had finished lunch, we jumped into his Prado for a bit of off-road exploration. The last time we went off-roading was last year when we visited the southern arm of Lake Manapouri.
The destination was Fraser Dam, which is easily accessible at this time of year if you have a car with all-wheel-drive and decent ground clearance. Once you’re on Fraser Dam Road, you just keep following the road and it leads directly to the Dam. Easy!
Completed in 1937, the Fraser Dam was constructed as part of the Earnscleugh Flat Irrigation Scheme. As Alexandra and surrounding areas in Central Otago get such dry summers, the Dam was created as a catchment to hold water and release it off to the farms and properties when required. The concrete structure pictured above is 32m high and 137m in length. The catchment area of the Dam is 119km².
On this side of the Lake, there are a few walking/hiking trails that are open to the public, however, it was far too hot when we visited and we were much happier inside the Prado with the air conditioning running!
After we got back to the camping ground, we were back into the Fiesta and went home via Frankton – calling into my favourite Ice Cream shop in Arrowtown for an afternoon snack.
How about starting your Sunday morning with a couple of fast laps of a spectacular racetrack & a cooked breakfast? We’ll that’s what we ended up doing.
We arrived just after 9am and pulled into the main carpark.
Entering the reception area, we paid for our breakfast and laps. The reception staff provided us with chits for breakfast, which are to be handed in once our laps had been completed.
Once back outside, we had to place a sticker on the top corner of our windshields and then make our way over for the safety briefing – which basically told us to be sensible, don’t pass anyone and to tune our radios into the local station, so that the safety crew could communicate to all vehicles if something went awry.
Once the briefing was complete, we waited for the prior group to complete their laps before our group could make our way onto the track. The group that we went out with were really good and kept good pace behind the safety car. I had to try and keep pace with the Euro Accord Mugen that was in front of me! Speeds were limited to around 130kph, as nobody had roll-cages, helmets or overalls on.
In order for you to classify for the fast laps, all passengers need to be adults. If you have children in the cars, then you have to wait until the last run of the day at 10am, where the safety car doesn’t go quite as fast. A pretty cool experience for the kids none-the-less!
Once the laps are complete, you park up and head in for your breakfast. Below are a few shots of cars that had already completed their laps.
As the Central Otago weather was delightful, we sat outside on the balcony for breakfast where we could watch the next couple of groups do their laps. Notice the rental Toyota Corolla that somebody decided to do laps in!
Before we left, we had another look around the carpark. Here were a couple of my favourites.
* The brown MK2 Cortina looked great. Can’t wait to get my Cortina finished and on the road next year – I’ll have to bring it to Cromwell for a couple of laps.
* The Peugeot 205 GTI in black was in amazing condition. I’m pretty sure the owner said that he’s had the car for 19 years. We used to own a red 1991 GTI.
* The TVR Cerbera in this very unusual blue/silver colour that changed depending on where you were standing. When the owner was doing laps, this car had the most aggressive sound of all the cars on track and was very distinctive.
Heading back to Invercargill via Frankton, I decided to pull the ST onto the edge of the Lake at Kingston for a couple of photos. This didn’t end so well… With the assistance of some very friendly fellow-Invercargill-ites that happened to be in Kingston, a Dodge Nitro and a Rav 4 had to end up dragging the car via the rear axle back onto solid ground. Won’t be doing that again!
Overall, a very cool outing for a Sunday morning and I’m looking forward to repeating the experience again in another vehicle next month!
Anyone that’s a car fanatic will have read or watched reviews of the new Ford Focus RS and know that it’s one of the best enthusiast cars on the market today. You know the manufacturer has aimed the car at the enthusiast demographic when you see that the car has a ‘drift mode’.
Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill now have a fleet of performance cars available for rent in Invercargill, one of which is a new Ford Focus RS.
Paying our $300 rental bill, we grabbed the keyfob and jumped into the seat of the RS, prepared for an extended roadtrip on the Saturday.
To try and make the most of our time with the car, Dad and I had planned a route that would allow us to fully experience the car (except for drift mode).
Our major destination for the day was the Haast, which meant that we got to drive the car around the lake roads. Some fantastic scenery and a few pretty cool corners made the car a blast to drive.
Dad and I standing beside the RS parked on the outskirts of the Haast township.
We stopped at the ‘On the Spot’ convenience store for a mid-afternoon Ice Cream. The Nitrous Blue of the Focus RS was a pretty close match to the fence colour!
We left Haast after another driver change and headed back in the direction we had come from. Pulling into the township of Hawea (beside Lake Hawea), I pulled the car down beside the Lake so that I could snap a couple of cool photos.
Heading back through the centre of the island, the roads were very quiet. The Focus RS ate the kilometers up and we made pretty good time. We drove the car in sport mode pretty much the whole time, which made the car feel more responsive and also made the exhaust pop and crackle a lot more. We did flick the car into race mode for all of about a minute, but the ride was just far too harsh.
At one stage we took a wrong turn and ended up encountering traffic of another kind…
We stopped for another couple of shots that show the subtle, yet aggressive exterior of the Focus. Since this car is fairly new, there isn’t a massive number of these on the roads in the South Island. Unlike an out-and-out sports car, like a Ferrari, the RS attracts the eyes and comments of only proper enthusiasts that know what this car is and what this car is capable of. To everyone else, this just appears to be a bright-coloured Ford Focus.
The interior is pretty much of standard Focus spec, with the addition of the recaro shell seats. I do feel that these seats are an inch or two too high, which you’d get used to if you owned the car. The thing that surprised me the most about the shell seats, is that they didn’t provide a lot of lateral grip, especially around the shoulders. The standard recaro seats in my Fiesta do a far better job of holding you in place. I know the standard seats are an option elsewhere in world for this car, but unfortunately in New Zealand we only receive the shell seats.
At a starting price of $72,990 + on-road costs, it’s a pretty expensive vehicle. Mind you, the engineering and sheer capability of the car go a long way to justify the high cost.
The burning question is, would I pay double the price of my Fiesta ST for this car? Not at this stage. The Focus RS is just so capable, that it makes 80% of general driving pretty boring and mundane. It’s really only when you get the car onto a tight road that you get a sense of thrill or excitement out of it. Since I’m not someone that’s tracking or drag racing the car, I’m unlikely to ever use the full power or mechanical grip.
I loved the idea that we can now rent such an epic car and enjoy a spectacular day out and plan to hire their V8 convertible Mustang next.
Since I’ve been really slack, I’ve neglected detailing a few of my adventures over the last few months. In this post we’re going to jump back in time to Sunday, September 24th 2017 – where I attended the Central Otago Wings n Wheels event at Alexandra Airport.
Departing early Sunday morning, we hit the road in the Fiesta travelling to Alexandra through Gore. Being a Sunday morning, the roads were really quiet and we have a superb run, without being slowed down by any traffic.
The Wings n Wheels event was a reasonable-sized affair, with an assortment of cars, bikes, boats, trade stands, market stalls, as well as aircraft displays. I didn’t enter my car in the show, so just ended up parking in the public parking. The only downside to the public parking was the dirt road that we had to exit on – the poor Fiesta look pretty second-hand by the end of the day.
Getting straight into the car display, I spotted this sweet looking 2-door ’66 Ford Falcon (Futura). Dad used to own a 4-door NZ new ’67 Falcon, so this brought back some memories. I think the colour of the car is probably a bit like marmite (love it or hate it), but I thought it made the car pop.
While we’re talking about classic Falcons, the next car to grab my attention was this 1977 Ford Fairmont. For those who are unaware, Fairmont is basically the luxury trim level for Falcons. It’s pretty rare to see that someone spec’d out a wagon in Fairmont trim & this car has covered very few kilometers since new and was in immaculate condition.
The final Falcon in my list was the 1980 XD, above. This car is original & has never been restored. In GL spec, this car was the cheapest one that was offered when new and even featured the “cheap mans” 4-speed manual gearbox. Makes this car ultra desirable today. I’d love to try and get my hands on an 80s Falcon, as my favouite childhood memories were made when we had an ’84 XF wagon!
(At some stage, I will dig out some out pictures and detail some of the cars from my past).
The show had a nice variety makes and models, from brand new cars, to classic British sports cars.
When new, Valiant must have been pretty proud of their new motor, as they decided it was worthy of placing a badge on the side of the car. I assume this scared a few people when they glanced sideways at a set of traffic lights!
The strangest looking car of the show was this Maserati Merak, which had these weird rear-braces (I’m not sure what you’d actually call them). It almost looks like some kind of weird ute/pickup in a sports car format. I couldn’t get a decent photo inside the car, but the entire dash wrapped around the driver. Pretty interesting and unusual.
A bright red Honda S2000 was in attendance and the owner was pretty chatty about how much he loved this car. This thing would be the perfect Central Otago car in the summer. Roof down, twisty roads and hot summer days = the most fun a man can have.
I’m not an aircraft fanatic, so can’t tell you too much about the planes that were flying in & out of the airport or performing stunts. There was an extremely enthusiastic MC informing us about each of the aircraft and their pilots. I can tell you that the camo-coloured jet above is an L-29 Delfin, which is owned by a guy in Queenstown. The noise this beast made when it started up and took off was incredible!
A charted plane that you could pay to go for a ride on.
We traveled back to Invercargill via Frankton, making it a round trip and arrived home in time for dinner. Overall, a great way to spend a Sunday. Stay tuned over the next week for a few more catch-up posts.