Saturday 4 February – To Cromwell
With preparations made, and cups of teas and coffees had at our clubrooms, it was on the road at 9:30 sharp to head to Cromwell for our Haast Trip, for which over 45 vehicles participated, the oldest Alan Averis’ 1912 Overland. For most of us from South Canterbury this day involved a trip through Wallaby country, Waimate before reaching the Waitaki Valley and Kurow. After heading westward through hydro country to Omarama it was a trip south over the Lindus Pass, and alongside Lake Dunstan to Cromwell. An evening meet and greet between partipants, many of whom were from other branches, and a number even from over Cook Strait, was held at the Central Otago Vintage Car Club Rooms. Almost all vehicles were aged between 1912 and 1980, with a small number of ‘modern’ support vehicles thrown in for good measure.
Sunday 5 February – Day 1 – Cromwell to Haast
With all participants heading away in their own time, it was a departure by most at after 9am – after near traffic jams for fuel, heading up first in the direction of Wanaka. Many of us attended the Wings and Wheels ‘Petrolhead Sunday’ breakfast and brunch, while a few ventured next door to the ‘National Toy and Transport Museum’ – able to take one’s attention for many hours. While many turned right for Hawea, a few ventured into Wanaka – one intrepid traveller ending up at Glendhu bay.
It was open top weather for many travelling alongside Lake’s Hawea and Wanaka, and a fair few stopped for awhile at Makarora, Pleasant Flat and the Blue Pools before reaching Haast. The 5pm Happy Hour was held at the Haast Heartland World Heritage Hotel.
Monday 6 February – Day 2 – Haast to Fox Glacier
An overcast day, it was a trip up north for us to Fox Glacier – though for over a third of us, it was initally a trip south-west through Haast Beach and Hannah’s Clearing to reach the furtherest settlement south by road, Jacksons Bay, where much time was taken soaking up 150 years of history, and watching the movements of the fishing fleet. Leaving Haast it was a trip up through the forests, past Bruce Bay and Lake Paringa and across several suspension bridges to reach Fox Glacier. It was just as well most of us reached Fox by early afternoon, as it was then that the renowned rain opened up, drenching the area for many hours straight. Happy hour for us soaked participants was at the old iconic Fox Glacier hotel.
Tuesday 7 February – Day 3 – Fox Glacier to Hokitika
An overcast day to begin, many of us took time to take a look around Fox, a number of us visiting Lake Matheson – no view of Mt Cook on this day – and the Glacier itself. Heading north, many of us stopped for awhile at Franz Josef, where the souvenir shops and cafes were making a roaring trade. The nearby Franz Josef glacier had its share of people, with a carpark full. Heading north, a number of us made the opportunity to detour to Okarito beach. With stops further made up the coast at Whataroa, Hari Hari, and Ross – a fair few of us ventured to go onto the treetop walk. Happy Hour for the evening was at Stumpers Bar and Cafe
Wednesday 8 February – Day 4 – Hokitika to Westport
With the early morning sun blazing overhead and clear views south to Mt Cook, it was a trip up above Hokitika to the airport, where adjacent is the Westland Industrial Heritage Park, where we were treated to a fair number of stationary engine and tractor demonstrations, courtesy of the volunteers, one of whom was dressed as Richard Seddon. We were further met by Mayor ?Tony Kokshoorn, and members of the local press, who took much interest in our visiting vehicles.
Leaving Hokitika, it was a trip north to Greymouth, a number of us taking a side trip east to Blackball and the Pike River memorial, before heading north to Punakaiki, and Westport. Happy hour was held at Club Buller.
Wednesday 9 February – Day 5 – Westport to Hanmer
With a start for most after 9am, it was a trip through the Buller Gorge with a tea stop at Berlins for many. Most of us stopped at Reefton, and a fair number of the locals took an interest in our vehicles. After a relaxed trip through the Victoria Forest Park, it was all traffic action through the Lewis Pass, complete with roadwork action left-right-and centre. Hanmer was reached mid-afternoon, with many of us taking the opportunity for a dip in the hotpools. The final dinner was held at 5 Stags, where a full house of us filled the function room. Speeches, an informal prizegiving and stories were had – Bruce Washington’s Peking-Paris trip being enlightening – and many went away happy.
Friday was a going home day for many of us, and for a fair few heading back to South Canterbury, this meant avoiding the ‘rat race’ of Christchurch by taking the picturesque Inland Scenic route.