Greveltravel and the Himalayan Challenge.

Steve and I decided to coincide a road trip to test and rattle the car with a Peking to Paris Kiwi anniversary, which we do each year.
This time it was hosted by Jock and Shirl Burridge if Nwlson in the South Island and we drove down from Mt Maunganui to Wellington and across the water to Picton to meet up with our colleagues in preparation for a three day run through some rugged SI countryside.
Denise performed very well on the trip down just eating up the road and just humming.
Steve has been working on the car for over twelve months with most every moving and operational piece having been reworked, remodelled or replaced.
Even then he would check it again for surety.
The plan would always be, the car will not breakdown on any rally! Period.
This shakedown run would identify any issue that did not show up during the rebuild.

Once on the road from Mt Maunganui heading to Wellington Denise ran like Steve had expected. A sunny windless morning, a most pleasant day.
Rotorua slipped past as did Taupo. Down the Desert Road and the smaller towns and stopping in Hunterville for brunch then into Wellington to catch the ferry.
At the terminal we ran into a couple of characters also on their way in classic cars to some other rallies. One was a friend of Bruce Washington the other Jim Hickey, the TV weatherman. Many stories and lots of laughs.
We arrived in Picton at about 8.30pm and headed for our rooms for the night.
The next day, wednesday we drove about the area to Blenheim and Renwick where Steve knew a car enthusiast to get some parts.
Had a good look around at the huge wine estates and forestry holdings. The whole area looked very prosperous without the roading issues in the North Island.

On Wednesday night it rained hard and in the morning to drive to breakfast the car was wet inside. How come? Both sides in the cockpit were wet especially the drivers side.
The windscreen was the suspect as it was around that area. We found the windscreen man who told us he couldn’t attend to the work for at least a week. Steve asked if he could buy some “gunk” and a gun to do it himself. Hi did. Solved the problem almost totally. But there was still some wAter getting in. The only other skin fitting on the car was the GPS module on the roof. A piece of tape over this did the trick. No more leaks.
A good result considering that had it not rained this would have been a major issue enroute somewhere during a rally.

We met the other participants of the reunion for diner that evening and enjoyed a few drinks and stories together.

DAY 1.
Picton to Havelock, Taylor’s Pass through Molesworth Station to Hanmer.

The run commenced at 8.45am to Havelock to have brunch and a prearranged meet up with Craig and Nicky Marshall who were on another rally.

On to the main run through to Molesworth via Taylor’s pass, a secondary road partially sealed but mostly a high quality gravel road.
Hardly any traffic and great scenery with great road rally conditions. A few shallow fords which made it interesting and as we went on the road quality worstened.
It was three hours later that we reached to station for lunch. A small sheep rangers hut where we sheltered from the drizzle.
Back on the now rough gravel road the country became more mountainous and the corrugations in the road bigger and more frequent. Denise road over these with ease as if she had been tuned for just such conditions. She performed very well and there were no further leaks inside.
A few larger fords over the road about 600mm deep with boulders as a base were traversed with relative ease although there was some water entry through the floor.
On to Hanmer some two and a half hours later at our accomodation for the night.
Denise did really well and I’m sure that Steve was pleased with her performance.

DAY 2.
Hanmer to Punakaiki via Springs Junction, Reefton, Blackball, Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport.

We departed Hanmer after refueling and headed for Reefton for Brunch.
Road was tarmac and a good road. Reefton is an old mining town and although it was “old time” it was most interesting to have a good look around and speak with some of the local characters.
We drove on to catch up with the team as Steve and I got involved with some of the characters at Reefton. We met up at Spring Junction then headed for Blackball, an old gold mining town.
Very interesting. Beautiful countryside. Lovely weather.
All of the roads on this leg were tarmac so we covered a lot of ground going for Greymouth on the west coast. Not much to do here so Bruce in his Dodge and us in Denise decided to go south to Hokitika. Had afternoon tea as a lightning storm came across the Tasman sea and it pelted down!

Back north through Greymouth and on to Punakaiki where we stopped off and walked around the tourists spot and the amazing pancake rocks. Spectacular!
All this time Denise provided us with a most comfortable ride, no issues, no rattles, just a steady travel humming at 95kms per hour. Everything working. Nelson via we Great ride.

We stayed at a small hotel in Punakaiki in cabins attached to a pub. A traditional country pub with pool table and country cut furniture made by the proprietor. Friendly company then dinner at a group table where we enjoyed some traditional pub food. Great stuff.

DAY 3.
Punakaiki to Nelson via Westport, Murchison, Lake Rotoroa and Motueka.

This run to Got is to Westport, a rather poorish town with a very long Main Street for breakfast. Lots of empty shops but interesting people. A good house here can be brought for $200k.
The road to Rotoroa was on gravel. Winding and with more fords and stunning countryside. No traffic here. It’s like a lost gem in the wilderness. Once there we had a quick look around the shores of the lake only to retreat speedily as the blood hungry sand flies attacked us. Steve was prepared with a can of spray, dealing to the little suckers inside the cabin.
Then on tarmac to the main road along the Buller river through winding roads amongst some spectacular country. Again few cars on the roads around here.
It was a long drive through country roads that Jock had specifically chosen to take us through. Gravel roads winding through more gentle country where hops, pine trees, and grape vines abounded.
What a productive and positive area Marlborough is. It’s a prosperous region of NZ which is lost on a lot of people that don’t travel. Great environ and has a most temperate climate.
We got into Nelson and checked into our rooms and prepared for our last dinner for this occasion. Jock had chosen a steak restaurant not far away where we enjoyed each other’s company for the final time and planned the next get together in a years time.

The next day we rose early to catch the ferry in Picton and head back home to the Mt.
All went well and we caught the 11.15 sailing.
Got to Wellington at 3.00pm.
Didn’t leave much time to get back to the Mt before dark.
We hit the road directly with an eta of 9.30pm. A rather ordinary drive though Steve had driven all the trip so it was a hard slog back. At Waiouru we were advised that the desert road was closed so we diverted through Ohakune and National Park putting us back an hour of travel. Darkness descended on us as we passed Lake Rotoira through Turangi to Taupo. Refuelled at Wairakei. An hour later Rotorua, then the last leg home to Mt Maunganui. 10.00pm. A little earlier than plan but pleased to be back home.
The entire trip was just so comfortable. Tiring but comfortable and I’m sure, save s few tweaks to the car, Steve would have been quietly happy with performance considering the hundreds of hours input.

A neat shakedown.
Denise should perform as expected on her Himalayan Challenge.


7 thoughts on “

  1. Hi Corgi and Steve,

    Happy to read your ‘local’ New-Zealand adventure and to see you are still doing that what we all like so much: long distance rally driving. Also good to hear that Denise is performing well. I didn’t expect otherwise if Steve gives the car so much serious attention. I think this trip must have been a perfect preparation for the Himalayan Challenge. Part of that rout I did with Mick de Haas in 2008 in our red Mercedes 280 3.5. ( We still think driving in India is terrible and dangerous especially in the dark, so be prepared. We will follow you with great interest.

    The 27th of May we are starting in the ERA 2018 Trans AM adventure. ‘We’, that is Sonja and me and Mick and Grace the Haas. The cars (my MGB and Mick’s MB Pagoda) are now on their way by ship to Charleston (SC).

    Further, we (4) have also entered the ERA New -Zealand Rally 2020. Perhaps we can meet then or perhaps you will enter as well (?).

    Kind regards,

    Anty Verloop


  2. Steve and Corgi…I am an old friend of Ed and Mary Merrill when we both lived in El Dorado Hills, CA….we live in Florida now. I look forward with envy to following your next adventure.



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