And my quest to hit 500,000 kilometers in my Fiesta ST.

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Highlands Tracklaps Breakfast

Fiesta Kilometers:

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.

Rising early on the Sunday morning, we departed at 7am to make the three hour drive up to Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell.

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!

Ford Focus RS – The best rental car?

Ford Focus RS Kilometers:

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.

Rewind: Central Otago Wings n Wheels 2017

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.

Fiesta Kms:

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.


Carbeque, anyone???


Loving this Lotus Escort in orange!


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.


While we had some lunch, we watched some of the RC-aircrafts in action. Some of the operators are pretty talented.

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.

 

2017 Auto Spectacular

It’s been a couple of years since we last attended the Auto Spectacular in Dunedin as there have been clashing events in our calendars. The cool thing about the Auto Spectacular is that there is always a focus on a particular era, genre, make or marque of vehicle/s. This year the focus was on Japanese Classics, Ferrari and the Chevrolet Camaro.

We left town a little after 7.30am on Saturday morning in Nathan’s TRD Camry, with Nathan, Robbie, Dad & I in attendance.

Nathan’s had his Camry for just under a year now and this was the first trip I’ve been on in the vehicle, other than a jaunt around town. The Camry was one of ten built by Toyota New Zealand, featuring the following customisations over the standard Camrys:
* 3.0L Supercharged V6
* 5-Speed manual gearbox (this car was only ever offered in an automatic variant here)
* Custom TRD-embroidered leather interior
* Custom body-kit & front grille
* Remus exhaust
* Fancy alloy wheels
* Did I mention the Supercharger?!?!

I’m sure there’s plenty of other features that I’ve neglected to mention, but this car was pretty much loaded with everything Toyota could throw at it in 2001. Each of the ten cars built by Toyota had their own specification sheet, detailing the unique features of the cars.

We made fantastic time through to Dunedin and even with four people in the car, had no struggles getting past slower traffic. The smooth power delivery and bags of torque propelled the car forward at a very impressive rate!

Before we even entered the show, we had a decent glance around the parking lot & surrounding streets, as there were plenty of interesting cars parked up from like-minded enthusiasts in attendance.


As a fellow Capri owner, I had to catch a few shots of this German-assembled MK3 Capri parked out on the street. A very tidy car!

Considering that we’re not long out of winter, the weather was superb. During our last visit to the Auto Spectacular, we froze on the way up & then inside the stadium it was like an icebox. It didn’t make for an enjoyable event that year.

A couple of really cool rat-rods were in attendance and attracted a rather large crowd. At first glance they just looked like they’d been hacked together, but once you started looking at all the little details, you saw how much work and attention to detail had gone into their construction. Look at the size of those rear truck tyres on that Ute!

Someone’s pimped-out Toyota Century, the top-of-the-line luxury limo that they made for nearly thirty years. The second generation Centurys, currently in production are now powered by a V12, which would make a superb cruiser.

The Celica above is a genuine World Rally Championship model, which Toyota had to produce 2,500 of, in order to meet FIA requirements so that they could rally these cars. Producing 252bhp, with 4wd, I’m sure this thing can move rather promptly.

My favourite car of the show, a 1937 Graham Supercharger 116 Sedan.

Containing a 6-cylinder motor, with a flat aluminum head, it produced 106bph. Back in 1937, this must have been one quick car. Only 5,000 116 Sedans were ever produced by the Detroit-based car company and this car was one of them. Sold new by a dealership in Methven, this car has remained in the country & is now owned by a couple in Waimate.

Another couple of gems that attracted my eye during the walk around, including a 458 Speciale.

The above Mk4 Cortina was one of the tidiest examples I’d ever seen. The current owner brought the car second hand back in 1981 and it was used as the family car through until June 2005, where it went into storage. In March 2008, the building where the car was being housed, suffered a fire and the poor Cortina suffered a fair bit of damage.

In mid 2014, the car was stripped down to a rolling chassis and had rust & body repairs done before being repainted in the original colour. A number of new and replacement parts were fitted in order to restore the car to the way it originally left the factory. The owners, Bryan & Marion McConachie must be very proud to have such a superb car.

Hitting up Wendy’s for sustenance, we hit the road and traveled back to Invercargill. A great way to spend a Saturday!

Father’s Day Petrolhead Breakfast & Porsche pop-up display

Fiesta Kms:

XR5 Kms:

September 3rd this year was Father’s day and to celebrate, Dad wanted to attend the Petrolhead breakfast that just happened to fall on the same day. Petrolhead breakfast is basically the equivalent ‘Cars & Coffee’ event here, however, as it’s named after the magazine, it’s open to everything except Japanese cars! I’ve never attended before, as I’ve always disliked the idea that it’s not openly open to all enthusiast drivers of all makes and marques, but made an exception as it was what Dad wanted to do.

We arrived early in the Chrysler & headed in so that we’d be able to get breakfast at ‘The Grille’ cafe, which is attached to Transport World here in Invercargill. The hotcakes, with bacon and banana were delicious!

Here are a few shots of the cars that were outside at the time I snapped my shots. The breakfast does run from 8am through to 10am, so the cars change throughout the morning.

My favourite car on display was the 1957 Ford Fairlaine Skyliner 500 below. Such a rare and cool car that we hardly ever see over here. Aside from the fact this one was sporting a contentintal kit on the back of the car, it’s the fact that this car has a retractable hardtop. Pretty neat stuff!

Inside Transport World, they currently have two pop-up displays. The first is the Porsche exhibit, which was featuring a number of cars designed and named after Ferdinand Porsche who was born on this day (3rd September) 1875.

Inside the entrance, they had a red 911 and a creme 1954 Beetle.

Inside, they had an assortment of cars under a large Porsche banner.

They had this Lego Porsche GT3RS model on display. A combined collaboration between Lego & Porsche, it took 4 years for the model to be designed. The kit takes about 20 hours to assemble. Click the link here to view the video to see just how detailed the model is.

2006 Carrera 4S. The 4S dictates that it’s 4 wheel drive, pretty handy in middle of winter.

2002 996 Turbo. This one features a 6 speed manual.

A 1995 Silver 968 Club Sport. Featuring a DOHC 2.9L 4-cylinder motor, the Clubby has no rear seats.

Menacing in Grey, this 1984 Porsche Carrera RS looked the part.

This 1975 911 Turbo, the top of the line Porsche you could buy that year.

A 1974 911 Carrera RS, built to compete in New Zealand rallies. In 2008, this car actually won the 2008 Otago Rally.

Featuring a 2.2L Flat 6, this 1970 911T produces about 125 BHP.

An all-original car, which has been owned by the current owner since 1971, this 1964 356 C Coupe was in superb condition.

What else can be said for the 1958 356 Speedster on display? In black, this car was gorgeous and made me want one in my collection.

The other pop-up collection on display is a celebration of LeMans, the world’s oldest endurance car race still running. Four vehicles, two McLaren’s & two Ford GTs are featured.

The 2015 650S & the 1967 McLaren M4A F2. Bruce McLaren, the legendary race car driver was a New Zealander, so as a nation we are still very proud of his achievements. The M4A was designed by Bruce to race in Formula 2.

This year, a documentary was released that featured Bruce McLaren, if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the watch. I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere in Invercargill, which was followed up by a talk from one of his former mechanics Wally Wallmott, where he explained what it was like working for Bruce in the early days.

Here’s a two-minute trailer for the documentary.

Then there was a Ford GT40 replica, which is owned by Grant Aitken. Probably the most-accurate replica ever built, this car was built from many original parts that Grant tracked down – including an original transmission. Check out the write-up below, it’s a very special piece of kit.

The Ford GT40 was one of the most popular cars that raced at LeMans in 1966 and was driven by the best drivers from around the world. Three of these world class drivers were New Zealanders – Chris Amon, Bruce McLaren & Denny Hulme. Bruce & Chris actually went on to win the 1966 race in the GT that they were driving. Great stuff!

Sitting beside the original, the modern reincarnation, a 2005 Ford GT in white and blue. Obviously, this year Ford have announced that they’re releasing another Ford GT, but this is still the newest one at the current point in time. Running a 5.4L V8 & 6-speed manual, I bet this thing is a hoot to drive. I’m pretty sure that I sat in this car back in 2009 or 2010 (I think, assuming this is the same car), when it was on display at the Lake Hayes car show.

Plenty of very special cars for a Sunday morning & I got to enjoy the morning with Dad, Mum & my sister Kelsey.

 

2017 Daffodil Rally for Cancer

Fiesta Kms:

Capri Kms:

On Sunday 27th August, we attended the Daffodil Rally for Cancer which was run throughout the country by the Vintage Car Club of New Zealand.

Originally we had toyed with attending the Timaru event, which would have been a good trip away, but a bit too far when we’d either have to travel home on the Sunday evening or take Monday off work. In the end, we settled with attending the Gore event, which was heading through to Lawrence.

We assembled in the carpark of the Gore town & country club. There was a good selection of cars from a number of different marques.

I had to break the map down into two distinct sections, as Google maps is unaware of a ferry crossing & thus will redirect back to the nearest road. In total, we covered around 343 kilometers for our afternoon outing. About perfect distance for a Sunday afternoon.

An assortment of classic British vehicles were assembled, ready for some heavy mileage. The mustard-coloured Triumph 2500 was in superb condition. The owner said that the car only had around 80,000-odd original kilometers on it & you could tell by looking how well the car was preserved. He did admit that he had put a new engine in the car as the old engine was seized.

    

A couple of German classics parked up. The black 1977 Mercedes 230 was an imposing looking machine.

After our safety briefing, everyone slowly made their way out of town and up to Lawrence. The Vintage club advise everyone to depart in 1-minute increments, so that other motorists don’t get stuck behind large grouping of classic cars on the roads.

After arriving in Lawrence, we parked up on the main street and were free to wander around the township & depart at our own leisure. The weather in Lawrence, for what is still winter here (just) was great. Unfortunately, with flooding in the South Island in July, three of the Cafes had closed down. The locals did report that they would all reopen over the summer period.

I managed to score a manuka-honey bacon sandwich from a food trailer & we had a look through some antique shops.


The Capri parked outside the local butcher shop, behind a V10 M5 BMW that was also on the rally.

On the way back to Invercargill, we decided to see if the Tuapkea Ferry was running. We were in luck & I managed to get my car loaded on for a trip across the river.

 

The river was running a little bit lower than usual, so Terry, the operator, had to lay down some ramps so we could get the low-slung sports car loaded. The angle of attack meant that the poor clutch had to do some pretty heavy lifting to get it up.

Terry was a great bloke and extremely helpful in making it a great experience.

The ferry (or punt), was originally opened in February 1896 and is the last known punt to be in operation in the entire southern hemisphere. The ferry operates 7 days a week, unless the weather is so bad that it’s unsafe to run. It’s funded by the Clutha District Council, meaning that it’s totally free to the public. A few years ago, when the bridge at Beaumont was being renovated, this was the only way to cross the Clutha River without taking an otherwise massive detour & was operated for ten hours a day to get people across.

The punt uses the flow of the river to cross from one side to the other & back.

Feel free to visit their website for further info: http://www.tuapekamouthferry.co.nz/

Once we had crossed, we made our way back to Invercargill taking a slightly longer route than was expected. “Winging it” we ended up in the middle of a forest on some rather interesting roads. A pretty good day out to raise some funds for a good cause!

Timaru All British Day 2017

The weekend of the 3rd to the 5th of June is Queen’s Birthday and our last long weekend until October. I had plans to go somewhere for the long weekend, as there are a number of different car events on over the weekend, but decided that I had been to Timaru the past two years, so a third was on the cards. The other bonus with Timaru is that it’s not too big a trip for the Capri – which has developed a bit of a shudder on takeoff – but only once the car gets warm.

Leaving late Saturday morning, we departed on the 400 kilometer trip to Timaru, using State Highway 1. As usual for a long weekend, the police are out in spades, enforcing a “zero tolerance” on speeding – meaning you’ve got to be pretty well behaved!

The journey there went without a hitch and we checked into a small motel in Timaru that we hadn’t stayed at before. I was delighted at reception to be told that I had a room with a garage. Perfect! There was even a hose available for car-wash duties, if it hadn’t been raining.

The next morning we had to cut our live feed of the LPGA short and head off for the meeting point at Caroline Bay in Timaru. At this stage it was spitting, but just before we went to leave it started to rain pretty heavily.

Registration at the tent, where we were provided with some sweets and the instructions for the Rally.

 

Capri lined up, waiting to go on the run.

 

    

An unusual Vauxhall Cavalier, MG BGT, Jaguar, a couple of Cortinas and a Hillman Super Minx were waiting to go on the run.

 

The nicest looking Ford Sierra Cosworth, that I think I’ve ever seen. Not even a swirl mark in the paint. We had a chat with the owners, Peter and Linda, later in the day. Turns out they have quite a few Fords in their collection. Peter also informed me that his daily driver is a Ford Fiesta ST. What a fluke! His Fiesta was the first Molten Orange coloured car in the country. It was great having a chat with like-minded individuals.

 


Perfect convertible weather. Not…

A few unique cars, including a stunning Mk5 Jaguar and a 1956 MG ZA Magnette. The MG runs a 1.5L four-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors, which produces nearly 60bph. The poor little 1.5L will propel the car from 0 – 100 kph in just under 24 seconds! With a four speed manual, it has syncromesh in the top three gears. It must have been a very advanced car at the time it was produced, and the car, which has been restored at some stage, looked superb and was probably my pick of the show.

  

We departed Caroline Bay around 10.20am and headed out on the Rally. As usual, we got taken on a number of back-roads that neither Dad, nor I, had been on before. The only downside this year, was the 1 kilometer stretch of gravel about halfway through the run. With the amount of rain we had received, all the cars looked like they’d been 4-wheel driving by the time we reached our destination.

The final destination was the Blue Cliffs Hall, where we parked up behind & in-front. They had the local school group put on a BBQ and inside there were coffee/tea stalls and a number of home-baked delights available for purchase. I had a superb piece of caramel square with my lunch and purchased some chocolate fudge for later.

After lunch, we all crammed ourselves into the hall for prize giving and to draw the raffles that had been sold throughout the day. Unfortunately, we didn’t win anything.

That completed the Rally and we departed and made our way back home again, with the dreaded shudder becoming a squeal by the time I pulled back into the driveway at home. I’ll have to do some investigation and remedy the problem – but it shouldn’t be hard to locate it now that it’s making an audible sound. Until next year!

Borland Saddle

We’ve been discussing a four-wheel drive trip for a while now and decided a few months ago that Easter Weekend was going to work out as a suitable time to make it happen. We departed on the Sunday morning, with the destination being Borland Saddle. Packing plenty of food, fuel and Easter Eggs, we were prepared for anything!

The group consisted of Dad, Nathan, Robbie and I – piling into Nathan’s Toyota Prado. The last time I was in the Prado, was a year ago, while we were racing to spectator points during the Otago Rally.

It took a couple of hours before we arrived at Borland Lodge. Once you pass Borland Lodge, you are on the rugged-terrain section of road. Luckily the gates were open – which meant the roads were clear – and we were able to proceed. The first stretch of road up the saddle is accessible by cars as well, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s a great driving road.

 

Borland Saddle is the second highest road in Southland. Created after a massive earthquake around 12,000 – 13,000 years ago, the quake generated a massive landslide – the biggest that’s ever happened in New Zealand. Some very pretty scenery as you stand and look over the valley.

You could tell we were up high by the cloud that was surrounding us. Dad and Nathan are checking the place out.

 

From the Saddle, the next part of the trip was downhill. The picture above was on the small track to the ‘Bivvy’. The Bivvy is a small ‘A’ shaped building which has two bunks inside, where you can spend the night. No booking required, first in, first served!

Next stop on the trek was the view of Grebe Valley. Here you can see the Grebe River. Frost and bogginess prevent the beech forest from establishing here. The U-shaped Grebe Valley was carved out by a glacier in the last ice age.

A we progressed further into the valley you got to see the power transmission lines. These transmission lines bring electricity from the Manapouri Power Station to the aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point. They were constructed during the 1960s, during one of Southland’s largest engineering projects. Some were really close to the road and had big barbed-wire netting about a quarter of the way up to stop pests & people from climbing up. It boggles the mind to think how much work went into building and assembling these behemoths.

After following the trail all the way down, we ended up at the South Arm of Lake Manapouri. We stopped on the shore of the Lake and ate out lunch while trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of sandflies that were swarming around us.

Aside from a scenic helicopter flying over, it was a very secluded and peaceful spot. There are eight non-powered tent sites which are available for campers. There were a few remnants of camp fires on the shore.

After lunch, we retraced our steps and went to have a look at the Monowai Power Station. Opened in 1925, the Monowai Hydro-Electric power station was one of the earliest in New Zealand. It was only in the mid-2000s that the original turbines were replaced with newer ones. Incredibly, one of the original turbine and generator units has been refurbished and put into service at a small hydro power station near Waitomo in the North Island.

We stopped at the Otautau Four Square shop for an afternoon ice cream on the way home. Overall, it was a pretty epic trip on better roads than we were expecting. A great way to spend Easter Sunday!

Ford Falcon & Fairlane Nationals 2017

Fiesta Kilometers:

Over the Easter weekend, the Ford Falcon and Fairlane Nationals are held. On the Saturday, they were parked up on display at ‘The Gate’ in Cromwell.

As I didn’t have too much happening on the Saturday, I thought I’d take the ST for a bit of a spin as I haven’t really had it on any long trips in a couple of months. I left Invercargill just after 9 am and departed in the direction of Dunedin. When I arrived in Waihola, I turned right and took the scenic route, which is far more entertaining to drive and has considerably less traffic.

The scenic road follows around to the Taieri Mouth and across the Waipori River. I stopped the ST and took a couple of obligatory photos…

From here, I went through Dunedin and up to Palmerston, where I turned inland on State Highway 85. I have been to Palmerston plenty of times before, but never turned and gone inland from this point. State Highway 85 provided some really nicely sealed roads that weren’t chopped up and pot-holed like we usually see as well as some spectacular scenery. Traffic on this road was pretty minimal and I’d assume there’d be less traffic on this stretch of road on a standard weekday or weekend.

As you progress inland, you pass small towns, which are popular with bike riders on the ‘Rail Trail’. The Rail Trail is an old transformed rail road, that’s now home to a 150-odd kilometer biking/walking track. Easter seems to be one of the most popular weekends for people to do this ride (as we get the Friday & Monday off work), providing a long weekend. I was only talking to my friend Peter earlier this week about ticking this one off our bucket list in the next year.

I stopped for a bite of lunch in Ranfurly, before heading through to Cromwell to have a look at the car display.

Above are pictures from opposite ends of the show.

 

Some of the modern Falcons on display.

A VERY original looking XB GT Falcon on display, with the factory mags still on the vehicle. I really hope that the owner does all he/she can to preserve the condition of this vehicle and doesn’t do a restoration. It’s refreshing to see a true “survivor” vehicle.

My favourite vehicle of the show – a 1967 Ford Falcon XR. When I was growing up, Dad & I flew to Wellington and collected a bright orange 1967 XR Falcon and drove it home. It was the first classic that we actually owned and was a great vehicle. Seeing the white one brought back some good memories. The white one pictured was in superb condition and looked like it had just rolled off the factory floor. As an enthusiast, I love that this car is still running its original six cylinder motor and that it hasn’t been switched out for a V8.

Above is a very rare 1965 Ford Falcon Sprint, in a colour that I like the name of – Fiesta Red! This car was originally ordered by a Ford employee, who optioned the car right up – so it has some very unique and cool features – like the 14″ Kelsey Hayes wire wheels.

The black XB GT Coupe is owned by Nicola’s Dad (I work with Nicola). He only takes this car out once ever four or five years – so it was good to see it out on display today. The coupes have such an aggressive “mean” look to them. Love it!

An XY GT in Moffat livery. The attached spec sheets were interesting, stating that the car produced 515 Nm of torque. That’s high even by today’s standards! Some of the optional extras on this car were a radio/tape player and seatbelts. Stuff we don’t even think about when buying a new car these days.

A few other cars that were floating in the carpark and on display. Note the yellow crank as the table leg. How cool!

I cruised home, with a stop in Arrowtown for a refreshing afternoon chocolate Ice Cream.

Tomorrow brings my first 4-wheel drive trip, so away to get some sleep before the early start!

Lawrence Car Show and Highlands Festival of Speed 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two full months since my last post, back on the 13th of February. I thought I better do a bit of a catch-up post detailing a couple of the major events that I’ve attended during this period.

I also managed to hit 17,000 kilometers in the Fiesta last week:

First, there was the annual Lawrence Car Show, which was held on Saturday 25th March this year. I have attended this show for about the last five years as it’s one of those consistent shows that is the same laid-back, easy-going shows that always produces good weather and a great day out. You may remember my post from last year.

This year, I went with Nathan in his 1958 Mercedes Benz 220S, providing total luxury for our 350-odd kilometer round trip.

We arrived just after ten and got stuck straight into the show, wandering around the vehicles on display. Other than a 20 minute break to get a bite for lunch, it was a pretty full-on show.

Above are a few of the vehicles that were on display.

Once the prize-giving was held, Nathan and I left and made our way to the local cemetery. Nathan’s Grandmother and Uncle are both buried there, so we went for a browse. It was interesting to see just how old the cemetery was, with a good chunk of the graves dating back to the 1800s. Presumably a lot of the burials from this period would have been from the Goldrush in Lawrence and Central Otago.

 

The photos above are a few with the Mercedes parked up by the cemetery.

We cruised home the long way and stopped in Balclutha for a mid-afternoon ice cream. Perfection!

Fast forward through to the 8th April and to the Festival of Speed, held at Highlands. Since I don’t believe I’ve mentioned Highlands in any of my prior posts, I’ll give you a basic overview. Highlands Motorsport Park, was officially opened in March 2013. Situated in Cromwell, Central Otago the 4.1 kilometers long track was designed to replicate some of the best parts of famous racetracks over the world. The premises also includes a motorsport-inspired museum, go-kart track and pit-lane apartments. There’s a number of activities you can do while you’re here though, including a Jurassic Safari and hotlaps in a McLaren or you could even drive a Porsche around the track.

We left Invercargill at 6.30 am in the trusty XR5, as I had a car load of people with me. Making pretty good time, we arrived just after 9 am, which meant we had only missed the first couple of races.

Tickets were a reasonable $25 for the day and provided access to the museum (which I hadn’t been in since 2013). I only managed to get a couple of shotty over-exposed phone shots from inside the museum of the Morgan 3-wheeler and a Ford RS200. Loving that interior in the Morgan!

We parked ourselves at one the spectator spots and set our chairs for the day. Crowds were down compared to a number of other Highlands races we’ve been to over the last few years, but that was to-be-expected as the Otago Rally was on the same day. With the two events clashing this year, it meant I couldn’t pop along to spectate at the rally.

Above are some shots of what we could see from where we were sitting.

After the lunch break, Rob and I decided to visit the Kart track, as a session in the Karts was only $25 for the day. I can honestly say that it’s the biggest kart track I’ve been on and the karts were pretty prompt. After a strenuous session trying to wrangle the kart around the track, I worked up quite the sweat. The group of us popped inside to view the results of our session. Let’s just say that I was embarrassed about  my lack of form. Seventh place… terrible!

We went back and watched a bit more racing, before heading over to look at the “Special Interest” vehicles that were on display. Nathan had his Mercedes in the display, which he’s done nearly 2500 kilometers in over the last four or five weeks!

As luck would have it, we also met the owner of another Mk4 2-door Cortina. The car was parked a few spots along from the XR5 in the public car park and had recently been painted. The current owner, Harrison, was very chatty and happy to discuss his car. Sounds like he and Nathan might plan a photo shoot in the future with their Mk4 2-doors.

We cruised home through Frankton, where we stopped for dinner.

I have a couple of trips planned for the Easter weekend, including my first 4-wheel drive experience. Should be good fun, so stay tuned!