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skidz

My South Island road trip

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Hi there, I recently had the chance to join a group of MG enthusiasts on a South Island road trip. There was a late withdrawal so this was my opportunity to join. And, BMW owned MG Rover for. a.while in the 1990’s so kinda fits, right?


Day one was to meet up at ferry terminal, cross the strait and first night in Blenheim.  Here we struck our first mechanical issue ~ one of the MGF managed to snap a gear change cable as they drove onto the motel car park!

Day two saw us head south via the Kaikoura cost to Christchurch for the night.. this drive is simply one of the best in the world. Along the Kaikoura coast the road clings to the side of steep cliffs with. the Pacific Ocean on the other side. Weather was ideal for top down motoring and the scenery just superb. The coast line has changed dramatically since the 2016 earthquake with the land uplifted by over 4 metres in some places, raising the seabed and exposing more of the shoreline.

 

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Day three saw us head to Ashburton for coffee, and a street display, Timaru for lunch, Oamaru and then Dunedin.  In Oamaru we had the chance to visit the Riverstone Castle (true!) check out the old limestone buildings, the Steampunk displays and motor museum. Then on to Dunedin, with dinner that evening at the restaurant within the historic railway station.

Day four and we continued south to Invercargill via the Catlins.  Stops along the way at the seaside settlement of Kaka Point, the Purakanui Falls, the Petrified Forest (only 170 million years old) and on round the south coast. This was probably our coldest day, with some rain, but still the most amazing scenery and really nice driving roads.

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I saw your tour twice.  I was in the Glen Tanner Cafe when your tour came down out of Mt Cook.   Noticed your nice E30 Baur with the top rolled back.  Then latter that same day or the next day (can't remember) in Tekapo, as you headed towards Fairly.

You must have had some beautiful days for travel.  With the Autumn colours out (why I was in the McKenzie Country) the country side must have been great to see.

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Thanks Murray. Yes the weather was great and the scenery just amazing - it was like driving in a pictorial calendar!

After the Catlins trip, we had two nights in Invercargill with the intention the group would make a day trip to Stewart Island.  As with some other things on this journey,  no ferry bookings had been made and it seemed the morning ferry was fully booked. Undeterred, Donna and I went down to the ferry terminal and ‘bluffed’ our way (see what I did there?) on. Donna had not been there before and this was the one thing she was most looking forward to. 
 We had a nice smooth crossing over and then took a bus trip which took us to all the hotspots. There is only 25km of roads and I think we covered them all! Stewart Is covers a large area but only three percent of the land area is available for occupancy - the rest is National Park, and DOC reserve.  We were not able to get onto the boat trip to Ulva Island which is a bird sanctuary- this one was full. So instead it was off to the South Seas Hotel for lunch - the Blue Cod burger was superb. They have installed a symbolic chain to link Stewart Island to the mainland, this referencing the story of Maui who used Stewart Island as his anchor whilst fishing the North Island from the sea. We were able to visit both ends.

There is a new museum, visitor centre and library but otherwise it was much as I remembered, and I was there 50 years ago!
The  rest of the tour group took the opportunity to visit the Richardson’s Truck museum  (amazing place - I was there in November) and to wash there cars. We had made some detours onto unsealed roads while in the Catlins. 

 

 

 

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What a brilliant trip and perfect car for it - great to see some real miles being done!

Sadly whenever I've been road tripping in the beautiful South Island its been in a rental Toyota.

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Awesome. Looked like a lovely time! 

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You need to take the E46 down!

From Invercargill we headed towards Te Anau via the fishing port of Riverton and the Southern Scenic route. A morning coffee stop saw us checking out the Southern Sushi aka cheese rolls and the world famous Tuatapere sausages - the cafe did really well that morning! Then onwards through more amazing driving roads and wonderful scenery Lunch today was at Lake Manapouri. Back in the 1960’s this beautiful lake was the subject of public opposition to government plans to raise the lake level to assist with operation of the Manapouri power station. The flow of the Waiau river was reduced by 90% to increase flow to the lake.  The power station supplies electricity to the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, one of the Government’s think big projects. Eventually and perhaps surprisingly, public opinion won out and the lake levels are controlled within “natural levels” whilst flow of theWaiau river has been restored to about 30%.  This was the star of the conservation movement in New Zealand- it was quite a turning point. Te Anau was another town that has been badly hit by Covid keeping international tourists away.  But one amusing moment arrived when one of the locals arrived in the town centre with his friend Penelope the pig in the back seat of his Mazda Apparently she goes everywhere with him. Life is different down South!

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Next day we were off to Milford Sound by bus. Another day of great weather despite a cool start, and the scenery is just out of this world -simply stunning. PreCovid this road was busy every day, with tourists in buses, car, campers etc. When we were there, the bus park, which can hold 48 tour coaches, had only three plus our 18 seater. They were hoping and praying for the Aussie bubble to open, so they could see a return to more normal levels of customers. We were lucky enough to have a pod of dolphins swim with us on the boat trip.

Another night in Te Anau and then off north via Queenstown and Arrowtown for lunch.  But first a stop at Kingston-to view the Kingston Flyer a tourist train that has been idle for years. We had a photo shoot in front of the station, safe that no trains were coming. And then we see on the news just a few days later the train was back on the tracks for a trial run. 

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We stopped for the night at the historic Cardrona Hotel, lovely meal and comfortable accommodation but no sign of the ghost. A short detour for us through to Alexandra via Cromwell and Clyde dam - another government Think Big project from the 1970’s. Then regroup at Tarras  for the drive through the Linda’s Pass and on to Twizel. But first a stop at the Clay Cliffs at Omarama. We have driven past the sign many times but this was the first time we have ventured in. It was well worth the effort. 

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Day ten and we continued north to Geraldine via Mount Cook and Tekapo. Another cracking day and fresh snow just added to the spectacle. Like most places we visited this whole area has suffered badly with lack of tourists following the Covid 19 outbreak.  But we were amazed by the growth in places like Tekapo - I reckon the place has doubled in size since we were last there.

The drive in and out of Mt Cook was just stunning. Sorry if I am running out of superlatives for the trip! I will let the photos tell the story.

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Day 10 and getting near the end now. But for some this was the highlight of the trip with a visit to Rodin Cars in Mount Lyford. If you have not heard of Rodin before, check the website Rodin-cars.com. Basically we have a wealthy Australian enthusiast who has set up a race track and race car construction complex in a remote valley in North Canterbury. Sound too way out there to be true? We thought so to until we were at the Skope Classic meeting at Ruapuna a couple of years ago. There was the car, a Formula 1 lookalike, there was Greg Murphy driving, and bam! There goes the outright lap record. And that was just the prototype! The idea is that wealthy individuals can purchase the car to run at track days or whatever. That first public display was very, very impressive.  They build everything in house, except the engine which are currently Cosworth V8. Butthey are now building their own V10 engine for the latest versions. 
at one end of the test track is the engineering workshop including a 3D printer that produces parts in titanium, carbon fibre ovens, design shops etc.  At the other end is the toy shop that houses some of his cars. 
Potential customers are greeted in the lounge (all decked out in black and gold, same as the cars.  I mean, the bench tops are black, but the taps are gold...) and are taken out for a few laps in aRenault Clio Cup car, the progress to a Formula 3 car, the F2, and then to the Rodin FZed

Stage one of the track is about 2:5 km, stages two and three about the same. We were able to view, but that was all.

also in the toy shop were a few of his personal cars, a McLaren Senna, Lamborghini Countach, and under the cover, a Ferrari Mona.  About six million just in those three. Did I mention that he is wealthy? The Monday is road registered. I asked the obvious question- does he drive it on the road? “Oh yes, he takes it to Amberley, to get his groceries “ And why not?

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After a night at the luxurious Mt Lyford Lodge we headed north to Picton to catch the ferry and say our goodbyes. Here we met our only kiwi roadblock- a flock of sheep. Lining up in Picton terminal you would expect a group of MGs to be centre of attention- but we were upstaged by a group of ModelAs plus a 1922 Rolls Royce, on their way to a back country rally at Taihape.

so ended our 12 day odyssey to the South Island - mainly the lower half.  The weather was good, the scenery fantastic, and the car went perfectly.  Couldn’t ask for better.

 

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