Adam’s Garage

Following all of my exciting adventures

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!

Balfour Backyard Beauties 2017

Considering we’re in the middle of summer here, there’s been a distinct lack of car-related events happening – or maybe I’ve just skipped a few. I must admit that I’ve kind of been trying to take things a little bit easier this year, with a couple of serious trips on the cards – which will mean fewer smaller trips.

I’ve also been throwing some coin at the old XR5, with just under $1000 worth of parts and repairs in the last week or so. Nothing serious, but just general parts that had met their used-by dates:

  • A pair of rear shock absorbers $382.23
  • A pair of replacement tyres for the front of the car $360
  • A set of rear brakepads $58.59
  • A brake cylinder compressor tool $36.99
  • Warrant of fitness check and inspection of stored fault codes, ABS unit etc. $141.94

The car is due for a wheel alignment at some stage when I find the time to take it in, as well as a rear rim that I want “straightened” after a pot-hole incident.

Fast forward to yesterday (Sunday) and we decided we’d go to Balfour and attend the Backyard Beauties car/bike/machinery show. We’ve had some pretty terrible weather this summer, so it was good to get an hour or so north of Invercargill and have some semi-decent weather.


Leaving Invercargill just after 9am, we cruised up via Winton. Traffic was pretty steady as Invercargill had just finished hosting the World Shearing Champs and I guess a lot of competitors were driving through to Queenstown airport. We did catch a few leaving town later in the afternoon as we returned home too.

We met at Nathan’s house. XR4i Sierra and with Nathan in his GT Corolla. Nathan’s car was proudly sporting his new personalised license plats ‘GTAE82’, a replacement for his 30th Birthday present!


Mk2-Escort-Sport Mk2-Cortina Mk1-Capri

An brief assortment of classic Fords – including a neat little yellow Mk2 Escort Sport, a rare Mk2 Ford Cortina GTE and a Mk1 Capri.


My “pick” of the show. A stunningly-restored Mk2 Jaguar. I’ve got a big soft spot for the MK2 and can admit that I’ll likely end up with one in my collection one day… The one pictured above was perfect on just about every level – look at the detail in that interior. Amazing!


Rear-Audi-R8 Audi-R8-V10-Engine Audi-R8

I had a bit of a count of the post 90s cars in attendance and managed to count five vehicles. The above Audi was one of those. Had a bit of a look around it and took a few photos as it’s the first one I’ve seen in-person. I should have taken the Fiesta – with a guaranteed prize for people’s choice for post-90s – it would have been pretty good odds!


An assortment of vehicles pictured above that took my fancy. As you can see, it was varied – from Australian, American, British to German vehicles in attendance!

We left Balfour mid-afternoon and travelled home via Gore, where we stopped to get chocolate-dipped ice creams. Overall, a pretty solid day out.

Next weekend, we’ve got ‘Classic Speedfest’, at Teretonga in Invercargill. Sounds like there’s 230+ classic race cars entered, so we may have to park a temporary vehicle in our usual spectator area to secure the spot. Stay tuned, it’s bound to be a good one!



Visiting Kelso, the ghost town

Capri Kilometers:

XR5 Kilometers:

I’ve decided in my infinite wisdom, to give the poor Capri a bit of a break for a few months. As of today (4th January 2017), it’s no longer road legal and requires a WOF (Warrant of Fitness) to verify that it’s legally safe to drive on New Zealand roads. It needs some very minor work done before it’ll pass this time, so I have decided not to rush the job and give the old girl a bit of a rest, as I have other cars that I don’t do enough kilometers in anyway.

Before locking the old girl up for a while, I decided to do an afternoon trip through to an old ghost town, called Kelso, in Otago. The route we took wasn’t exactly the quickest or smoothest, but covered some roads that we don’t typically drive on. We ended up bringing the car home earlier than expected, due to some mechanical noises from the rear that I wasn’t exactly keen on hearing. Guess that’s something else I’ll need to look at before I put it back on the road. On the return trip home, I did pull into the forecourt of the closed petrol station in Tapanui to examine the underside of the car to see if I could spot the noise, while trying to stay out of the pouring rain. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything that “appeared” to be broken – at least to the naked eye.

When we arrived in Kelso, I was struck by just how little of the town remained. On the main road, there are couple of sign boards and a monument depicting the flood levels for each of the separate floods that have occurred in Kelso. Further down the road, there is also a war memorial (however, I haven’t got a decent picture of this).

Kelso was originally wasteland between the Crookston Burn and the Pomahaka River, which converged on the gorge below the village. It was originally surveyed in 1865 and settled in 1878. Over the next thirty years, the town grew considerably. Aided by the additional of a railway line in 1881. The sign says that Kelso’s heyday was around 1900, with the town comprising of:

  • Two hotels
  • Bakehouse
  • Fish shop
  • Foundry
  • Saddlery
  • Flour mill (driven by a windmill)
  • Two butcher shops
  • Station agency
  • Black smith
  • Fellmongery
  • Three carpenters, each with their own timber yards
  • Bootmaker
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Masseur (who was also a vet)
  • Stock doctor
  • Church
  • Dairy Factory

It was interesting reading about Dunnet’s Hotel. Originally called the Railway Hotel, it was built for Charles Dunnet in 1881. The hotel was taken over by Robert Leask (his cousin that he and his wife had raised) after his death, in 1910. Robert Leask renamed it to the Temperance Hotel and continued to run it until his own death in 1953. Once he passed, it was sold out of the family and within a couple of years had been demolished. My great-grandfather was also called Robert Leask, however, I don’t believe it’s the same man. I’ll have to ask my grandfather next time I’m on the phone to him!

Originally there was a flood in 1903, but the township still kept plodding along. Then in 1978, they had the flood that they called the ‘100 year flood’. Presumably they assumed it was one of those occasions that was likely to happen only once every hundred years. A flood relief fund was setup for the community after this, which allowed a lot of the town to get back on their feet.

Only two years later, in 1980, the town flooded yet again. They aptly referred to this as the ‘2nd hundred year flood’. Pretty original, huh? The remaining money from this fund was used to help relocate a lot of the houses and buildings away from Kelso, as the community up and left. They mention that the old post office, which was opened in 1954 was moved to Lawrence after the flood. My next planned trip will take me through Lawrence, so I’ll have a peruse around and see if I can find it.

Views of the main road of Kelso. Note that the area is mainly just farmland now.

A picture of the one lone shed that you can see from the main road.

I tiki-toured around one of the back streets and found the site for the old school. When I say old school, it was their ‘new’ school, which was build between 1950 – 1951. The school was refurbished after the 1980 flood, but a referendum was held about future flooding and the school was then closed. As you can see in the four photos above, there isn’t much left except for a little shed and small fenced area surrounding it.

There were two or three little ramshackle properties on a street behind the school, which still look like they’re inhabited. It’d be a nice and peaceful place for a summer holiday, I bet.

The only other building that was still standing was the old Kelso Dairy Factory. The building still looks like it’s structurally sound, even if it has seen years of neglect. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get inside as the building was surrounded by what appeared to be an electric fence. I wasn’t game enough to try and a couple of other ladies that were looking at it too weren’t all that keen either!

I pulled into a paddock a little bit further along from the Dairy Factory, to see if we could get access to the creek that ran along the back. The trees and undergrowth around it was too severe that we couldn’t get to it. Mind you, the field did provide a good photo opportunity for the old Capri.

I drove along to a bridge that crosses the Pomahaka river, so that I could get a couple of shots. I wouldn’t say that the river was extremely close to the town – as it would have been a good half-a-kilometer down the road, which surprised us as to how it could have flooded so severely. One of the photos shows the embankment and the water level is currently quite low, especially considering we have had a bit of rain recently. For water to rise to the extreme level that it did back in 1978 and 1980, it must have been treacherous rain.

We then drove around and up the back (or front, depending on how you look at it) of Kelso, as I was hoping to get a shot of the town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get across some private farmland – so Kelso (which I had my back to in these photos), isn’t pictured. It wasn’t long after I took this shot, that we were in unbearable rain. I had my wipers on full and couldn’t drive faster than 60kph!

It was an interesting day, learning a lot about a thriving town that once existed in the area.

Stay tuned for my next update!

Belated Birthday Post

Fiesta Kilometers:


I apologise for the lateness of this post, as it should have arrived shortly after my trip away on the 17th of December, to celebrate my birthday as I edge closer to retirement. Pity I’ve still got such a long way to go!

For my birthday, I decided it’d be good to do some family bonding & convinced my Dad and my younger brother, Ryan, into a trip to the new indoor karting facility in Frankton, that we hadn’t been to before. The place in question, is called ‘Game Over’ and has a fleet of electric karts, which provide instant torque – even if they don’t quite have the noise of a traditional kart.

It’s around 400 kilometers to Queenstown & back, so helped to bring the Fiesta closer to the 15,000 kilometer service that I had scheduled in the week before Christmas. I’ve taken some time off over the Christmas period & knew that I wanted to do a few more ks in the car, so needed to get the service out of the way.


Dad wanted to stop at the Hunny Shop on the way, so he could purchase his “expensive” honey for his morning toast! We followed a Ute on the way into Frankton which advertised a meat shop… Good slogan guys!

HoneyShop2 EatMyMeat

It was about a half hour wait before we could get on the track, so watched some of other people race around first – learning the fastest & slowest lines. We ended up raced with another husband & wife couple that were there at the same time and had a hoot. It was great fun & I managed to get the quickest time out of our group with my best lap time being a 29.579.

KartingIndoors Karting

Somone else’s POV video

Just outside Game Over, there was a large Farmer’s Market being held, with an assortment of foods & other hand-crafted goods. I ended up purchasing some home-made soaps for both my Grandmothers for Christmas.

By this stage, it was a bit after twelve & we couldn’t be bothered waiting in any huge lines for lunch. We ended up taking the easy option and dining at the local Burger King. While there, I spotted a superb E-Type Jaguar and a Saab limo.

FiestaCarpark ETypeJag SaabLimo

After lunch, we drove over to Arrowtown to have a bit of a look around, before stopping at my favourite Ice Cream shop – Patagonia. Their double chocolate is to die for!


After that, we cruised back home, enjoying the decent weather and scenery. Below is a picture to show the updated Frankton bridge. Work over the last six months has been rather tedious, but it looks as though they’re finally making decent progress. Got to say, I’m looking forward to the bridge finally being completed, so we won’t have to use the rickety old one-laner anymore.


In other news, I had the rear windows tinted in the Fiesta:

BeforeTint AfterTint

The brake booster in the Chrysler failed too – leaking front & rear seals, as well as the diaphragm. With all the major places in town unable to locate replacement parts, it ended up spending some time at BNT (Brakes and Transmission) in Invercargill. The team managed to Frankenstein some parts together and get it re-kitted – they even re-painted the unit, so it looked like new. It wasn’t a hard job to get the booster on and off the car, just tedious as a few of the inside bolts proved to be in rather awkward locations – meaning plenty turns of the spanner to get it off. My back was killing my by the end of it!

300BrakeBooster 300BrakeBoosterFitted 300Outside

Stay tuned for an end-of-year roundup in the next day or so, of everything I missed covering with the blog. Now I’ve got a few weeks off work too, I’ll also be working on other content for the website. Finally.



McLaren Hunting

Fiesta Kilometers:


With a little over 3 million people in New Zealand, we don’t exactly see a huge number of exotic, high performance vehicles on public roads. So when you get the chance to go for a quick Saturday blast to see some spectacular supercars, you jump at the chance.

Nathan, Robbie & I departed Invercargill early on Saturday morning, with our destination being Glenorchy. Original plans for the day were to take Nathan’s most recent purchase – a TRD Supercharged Camry. One of ten cars produced by Toyota New Zealand. Makes it rarer than half the cars we were going to see. As Nathan’s Camry had already been for a decent drive the day before, we settled on taking Rob’s Corolla GT-i. No doubt we’ll have another trip in the TRD Camry in the future.


From the media announcement, we knew that at some stage during the day, we were likely to see a group of the cars end up there. It’s about a six hour drive from Invercargill to Glenorchy and back, totalling 466-odd kilometers. The drive around the outside of Lake Wakatipu is a really scenic one and provides some nice driving roads, which is why the McLaren group decided to drive them. It’s tourist central this time of year though, so too much fun can’t be had when you’re held up behind rental cars, campers and buses.


Arriving around midday, we took a tiki-tour around Glenorchy and couldn’t spot any exotics, so decided we’d head to the local pub for lunch. I assumed by the ‘closed for private function’ sign at the local cafe, that the McLaren owners were pre-booked for either lunch or afternoon tea. The pub is part of the local hotel and had a number of tourists inside having lunch. I wasn’t feeling too hungry, so settled on the wedges with bacon and sour cream. The plate was too hot to touch!

Just as we were finishing our meal, we spotted some McLaren’s filing past outside, so quickly rushed the rest of our food down and went outdoors.

McLarenLineup McLaren570S

There was an Audi RS3 acting as the lead car of the tour. Guessing it’s owned by a dealership in the North Island? First time I’ve seen an RS3 in person. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the ‘Nardo Grey’ paintwork on it, but it’s basically the luxury hot hatch meant to compete with the Mercedes A45 AMG. At $104,900NZD, it’s not the cheapest car in the world. Wouldn’t complain if I had one in my fleet, though.

AudiRS3 AudiRS3Rear

Have to say, I’m a massive fan of the 675LT, so did spent a lot of time looking this one over. Ignore the stickers plastered all over the vehicles, as they were part of the ‘tour’ graphics and weren’t exactly flattering…

McLaren675LT McLaren675LTFrontMcLaren675LTSide

A few of the other cars, including a 570S, 650S & MP4-12C. While we were looking at some of the cars, a random guy was being shouted at by his wife to basically ‘get a move on’. As he headed her way, we heard him tell her “I was looking at the Lamborghinis”. I think everyone listening had a good laugh at the poor bloke!

McLaren650S McLaren570S McLaren570S (2) McLarenTyres McLarenMP4-12C McLaren650SBlack

I loved the Mercury Red MP4-12C with the silver wheels & black interior. A great colour combination. I had a chat with the owner & even managed to get a cheeky photo behind the wheel.

RedMcLarenMP4-12C (2) RedMcLarenMP4-12C AdamMcLaren

A 570GT was also sitting over the back by itself & presented a pretty cool photo opportunity with the mountains in  the background.

McLaren570GT1 McLaren570GT2 McLaren570GTSide

The big news of the day was the McLaren F1, valued at approximately $22,000,000NZD, ending up in a ditch at the side of the road. The car had left the road as they were travelling from Queenstown to Glenorchy. One of the other McLaren owners was saying that he suspected the car would be shipped back to the UK, so that McLaren could fix the car themselves. When we went past the accident scene, it looks as though the driver had locked the car up after an over-correction. If it wasn’t so low, I’m sure he could have backed the car out of the ditch. Police had the scene under control by the time we went past and the flatbed truck with hiab was only about a minute out.


As if the embarrassment of losing control of your car isn’t enough, the police have now also charged the owner with careless driving. Poor buggar!

Click here for the full article.

We also had to get a shot of Rob’s GTi lined up with some McLarens.


Great day out with some cars we’ll probably never see here again.

Fiesta update, upcoming events & other happenings

After nearly four months of ownership, I’m loving the Fiesta ST. If you’ve seen or read any reviews on the car, all of the rumours are true. The car is phenomenal to drive, especially on a tight, technical piece of road. I mean, I guess we’re pretty darn lucky with the roads we have here in New Zealand, that most are pretty well sealed and traffic isn’t that bad. After spending a night reading the owner’s manual, I discovered that if I tap the ‘traction control’ button, it will put the car into sport mode. Holding the button down completely will take the traction control off (well, as far as Ford will let you). If I’m out having a bit of a spirited drive, I find that the sport setting is so much better than having the car in its normal mode. Sport mode seems to stop the car from trimming the corner quite as tight, and as such, will let the car rotate around the corner a little more.

Last week, I celebrated the 8000 kilometer rollover (albeit, digital rollover).


What has surprised me most about the car?

  1. The bluetooth Sony stereo in the car. As far as factory systems go, this thing is pretty impressive. I spend most of my time listening to podcasts (Everyday Driver) & audio books, but even when I turn on some classical rock, it keeps up.
  2. The keyless entry system. It’s a delight not having to try and find your fob in your pocket to unlock the car – especially when it’s the same fob as my XR5. I always seem to pull the wrong one out of my pocket. Just walk up, push the button on the door handle & you’re in.
  3. The fuel economy. I’ll post an image below, but the car just keeps getting and better. I think in the coming weeks, I should see around 700kms per tank.
  4. The ease of driving. Mixture of the electric steering, light gear change & predictable clutch, the ST is a breeze to hop into and get going.

What don’t I like about the car?

  1. The window switches. I have had to re-program these a number of times already. For some reason, they’ll program themselves up, so that I can’t get a window more than half-down or can’t make it stay up. Guess I’m the cause of this, but I’m not doing it on purpose. It’s just frustrating!
  2. The rev-matching feature nobody talks about. It’s not what you think. It matches (or holds onto) the revs on the up-changes. I usually jump from 3rd straight to 6th gear, however, once dipping the clutch, the car will still be revving at 3 grand. You then have to hold your foot on the clutch for a few seconds before the revs decide to die. It’s now meaning I’m rowing through all the gears – so much more work!
  3. The honeycomb grill at the front & back. A mission to clean!

I have a few weekends away in the next month or two – with a trip to Christchurch for round 2 of the South Island Endurance Series, round 3 in Timaru & then 50 years of the Waimate 50. The three are all decent car events, so I’ll get some goods shots & footage hopefully. By the time you throw in some other car shows or trips, a weekend spent watching the Bathurst 1000 on television and a few rounds of golf, my schedule is pretty full. I have adjusted my schedule for Timaru though & will be driving home late on the Saturday night, so that I can attend the Southland Festival of Running on the Sunday. I’m undecided on the distance that I’ll run yet, but the half-marathon sounds more likely – considering it’s likely I won’t be home ’till midnight!

Our neighbour, Noel, who lives a few doors down, turned up in a Rolls Royce the other day. The roller was originally owned by a guy that lived down Tokonui way, so it’s still fairly close to home. Considering the size of the engine, it was silky smooth and hardly made a sound. A very impressive old machine!

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In other news, the poor Capri is out of action. I went to move it from the internal garage, to the shed and as I pulled it into reverse, the gear lever snapped clean off in my hand. Luckily, I was in the drive & managed to just push the car back in into the garage. I’ve since had to pull the centre console apart & unbolt the shifter from under the car. I dropped it off to my friend Ricky, who’s an engineer. He reckons he’ll be able to weld it back together. Fingers crossed, as I haven’t been able to locate a decent replacement anywhere! Aaaaah, the joys of classic car ownership!


I have another blog post in the works, where I’ll be doing a ‘Mazda’ feature. Should be something a bit different.


Pictured above is my fuel mileage. As I stated earlier, the car just keeps getting better and better mileage. I also have a walkaround of the Fiesta planned – I actually need to do a tyre rotation before my trip this weekend, so might do it after I’ve rotated tyres & clean her up.

Stay tuned & stay safe out there!


Catlins Coast Rally 2016

XR5 Kilometers:


Saturday 6th August marked the 2016 Catlins Coast Rally. For the last few years, I’ve made an effort to go and support the talented individuals that run in this event. For 2016, the rally had been shortened down to six stages – cutting back quite a few of the special stages – including the usually great spectating stage back in Balclutha.

It was a laid-back start this year, leaving town at 8am. We had stopped to collect Subway for lunch, as that way we wouldn’t have to try and make it into one of the local shops in a massive rush and could eat between stages.

The first stage we wanted to spectate at was stage two, which was starting around 10am. By the time the first car would get to the stage, it would be well after that – so assuming we didn’t hit any traffic, we’d easily be there in time.


Just like 2014, we hit snow along the way. Only difference was, this time I had chosen to pilot the XR5, rather than take a 4-wheel drive. Pics below show 2014 & 2016 respectively.

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With 89 vehicles participating this year, it was a great sized field and provided for some fantastic entertainment during the day. It did seem like there were considerable sized spectator crowds this year, this could have been due to everyone congregating at the same stages since there were only six stages run?

I had a dabble with the DSLR and managed to snap a few shots!

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With a surprising end to the rally, Vaughan Edie won the rally in his Mitsubishi EVO 8. I work with Vaughan, but haven’t managed to congratulate him on his very impressive win yet!


As always, I had a great day out and spent a good chunk of the day waffling with random strangers – a few of which I hope to make contact with again in the future. In particular, I met a guy on stage six – the final stage of the day – who was taking photographs of Ford Escorts. We got chatting and he was a very passionate car fanatic – with a number of Fords, Volkswagens and Porsches in his collection of cars. He even gave me a tour of his brand new 2016 Ford Focus RS which he had only taken delivery of earlier in the week. The car was filthy after spending most of the day accessing the remote spectator spots!

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It was after five when we left stage six and departed back for Invercargill. I managed to stop half-way home and grab a shot of the XR5 just as the sun was setting. Looking forward to next year!


Maiden Voyage: Part Two

Closing Kilometers: 3000kms

There was a segment on the news a few months ago that highlighted there was no longer a cop in Karamea and the locals were outraged. They believed that crime was low in the area due to the presence of their local officer. They then flashed up an image of the area, and I noticed how spectacular the road was.


So, what more can I say? The road was spectacular! A great piece of twisty, secluded roads that were sealed to perfection. The scenery was pretty stellar as well.

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Without traveling on gravel roads, it was a trip back down the same road. Another few great hours of driving ahead!


The next destination was Hanmer Springs, a little town in the centre of the Island. Hanmer is known for it’s hot-springs (natural hot pools) and is a big holiday destination, both for New Zealand citizens as well as overseas tourists. I stopped in at the local convenience store and got chatting with one of the checkout operators. She said it was super busy today as they were having an open day at the old hospital, to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the opening on the hospital. Turns out Queen Mary’s Hospital was opened in 1916 as a place to treat wounded soldiers after World War One. It’s one of the most historic buildings in that part of the country, which rumour has it, may be redeveloped and turned into accommodation.

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Above are a couple of pictures of the ST hanging out in Hanmer during the time we spent there.

The next stage of the journey was down to Christchurch. The company I work for owns a set of motels in Christchurch and I had an odd-assortment of tech jobs to do while I was on-site. As we were heading through to Christchurch, my friend Nathan suggested it was worthwhile taking a slight detour if we had time. He said to leave Hanmer and turn left, heading to a section of road called the ‘Arctic Triangle’. We weren’t sure what to expect, but he had led us onto a magnificent piece of road that ran around Mt Lyford. I believe this was the first time I’ve ever seen a marked 15kph speed signed marked on a road – it was one of the tightest switchbacks I think I’ve come across – not to mention the 30-odd one lane bridges! The road brought us back out at Kaikoura, which provided another nice scenic drive along the other coast of New Zealand. Never thought I’d have a coast-to-coast run in the same post!


Next on the hit-list was to visit another location I had always wanted to drive to, but never had the time or need to go there. This trip I had nothing but time, and an excuse to go there – just for the drive. It was a remarkable little town called Akaroa. I managed to get a couple of shots at the crack of dawn and the traffic was minimal, so we had plenty of fun. I will return to Akaroa in the future, with plans to stay in the quaint little inlet town for a few days next time!

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I should include a mapping of the road:


We then left Akaroa to go and visit some family in another little town called Temuka. They’re big petrol heads and were keen on seeing the car and hearing about our journey so far. The highlight of the trip was when Uncle Murray went a pulled out an assortment of his old photos. Below is a picture of his Ferrari Dino, which he held a speed record with down in Invercargill. He had a laugh when he told us that prior to the picture being taken, he had just rallied the car. He said at the time nobody thought anything of it – it was just a Dino. Betcha this makes people cringe now though.


Rather than driving the main roads home, we decided that we’d tiki-tour and go through a place called Waimate. I’ll be back in Waimate later this year, as they hold a massive motoring event called the Waimate 50 every year. This year it’ll be 50 years of the Waimate 50, so it sounds like they have big plans. Nearly 350kms of road, we got to venture past some massive dams, including the notable Benmore Dam. This road even took us over the Lindis Pass – a treacherous road in the winter that I’m sure has been victim to many a rental-vehicle. It’s one of the massive roads frequented by tourists.

A stop at the River Cafe for an afternoon ice cream.


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This led us into Queenstown, the tourist destination of the South Island. It’s got scenery for days and with it only being a few hours away, is a place we visit and holiday in regularly. First picture was heading into Queenstown, with the signpost to Invercargill on the way South and finally the one-way bridge to go home. They’re in the process of building a new bridge, can’t wait!

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The road from Queenstown to Kingston includes a section of road called the ‘Devil’s Staircase’. I vividly remember reading a newspaper article that my great-grandmother had back when she was still alive, of the road being carved into the side of the mountain. At that stage, the road was gravel only and took many hours to make the trek. Today, it’s two-lane and takes only 30-40 minutes.

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And that summed up the first major trip away in the Fiesta. Upon returning home, I swapped the dealership for my Mondeo, which had been happily tucked away getting a service. I think the service delivery manager was stunned that the Fiesta needed its first service already. It’s not due for another one now until 20,000kms – but I personally think that’s pushing a little bit too far, so I’ll have it in slightly sooner than that.

Plenty of articles to come, including detailed fuel costs (for those nerds that like that stuff) and I’m going to do a walk-around & try to do a POV driving video. Stay tuned & stay safe out there!