Wheel alignment

Thursday 15 March 2012

Road trip and some great machinery

This isn't a prelude to resuming regular blogging but Jennie and I have just got back from a 6 day autumn road trip and thought I'd share some of the photos whilst I was cataloguing them as it was such a cool time.  Click photos to enlarge.  The trip covered part of the lower half of NZ's north island and it was a great opportunity to catch up with some friends in the region at the same time.

My mates and I did a bike trip late last year over a 160 km long road called Gentle Annie which traverses some pretty wild country at altitudes up to around 3000 ft.  Jennie had never been over it, so it was a great opportunity to put that right.  The small country town of Taihape where we stayed overnight was coincidentally having their annual gumboot-throwing day and it was great fun seeing people of all sizes, shapes and age throw standard-sized gumboots as far as they could.  The record is 67 metres (220 ft) which is pretty impressive.  There was also sheep-racing and racing ride-on lawnmowers.  We love eccentric events like that!

Choose your gumboot!

Letting fly

Entering the Gentle Annie road proper, it was a gorgeous day but you need to take care as it's rare to see more than a handful of vehicles over it's entire length.  Not a place to use as a racetrack, especially with some of the drops into valleys.

Lonely, majestic country

Remnant from the days of horse-drawn coaches

Remote cattle farm sign.  Nowhere in reverse (nearly!)

Beautiful river valley

After traversing Gentle Annie and staying in the lovely Art Deco city of Napier overnight, we headed south to Mount Bruce, which is renowned for its bird life.  It was fantastic to see one of our native parrots, the Kaka, at close range.  Very little fear of humans, but they wouldn't oblige by holding their wings open so that we could get a shot of their bright orange under-wing feathers.  Nonetheless, they still looked great.

The NZ Kaka

There were also trout and giant native eels in one of the streams and in the photo below, some of the eels were close to 6ft long!  

Giant native eels

Bush ferns unfolding at Mt Bruce

We stayed with friends north of Wellington for a couple of days and they took us to the Southward Automotive Museum.  We hadn't been there for over 20 years and it's grown into a world-class "must see" stop for anyone travelling in the lower north island.  Here's a small selection from their fabulous collection.

Not just cars but bikes and lots of other stuff

The next photo believe it or not is actually an unpowered trolley built for an annual race down a steep town street where gravity does all the work.  Most people are happy with a bit of plywood and 4 wheels from a baby pram but not this guy!!!  The answer to the question "Why??" must be "Because he can".  Incredible workmanship.

The ultimate machine for a trolley derby - slight overkill?

Mercedes Gull Wing Roadster  - elegant simplicity

Streamlined Czech Tatra from the 1930's!

Just part of the collection

Stanley steam-engined car

All copper-bodied car!

The ultimate non-skid tread pattern on a vintage car!

Brough Superior sidecar outfit with Austin car engine - worth megadollars

I think the trike below was manufactured in the USA.  Acetylene headlamp, chain drive to the front wheel.  One might imagine that the steering was somewhat heavy! Not sure whether the cylinder head cooling fans were original but in terms of effectiveness, we might be able to reach a conclusion of our own!

Beaten with the Ugly Stick......

The vehicle below is a British Bond Bug which was built in the early 70's. It had a 700cc 4 cylinder motor of very limited horsepower. At the time it was released, it was regarded as a bit of a joke but in these days of the SMART car and other super-compacts, it doesn't look out of place at all and I LOVE it!  I'd love to own one and with a bit of suspension tweaking and a 675 Triumph motor, sigh............. 

Way cool or a big embarrassment???

A Star Wars cockpit long before Star Wars

Early NZ rail dragster with a 28 litre V12 Allison from a P40 fighter

The scooter below is a Triumph Tigress from 1958 and still looks incredibly modern. Available as a 250cc 4 stroke twin or a 175cc single 2 stroke.

Triumph Tigress - very sleek

Triumph's sister company, BSA, produced some clever designs and the photo below shows a standard BSA bicycle (from the 1950's I think) with a small 2 stroke which drives the hub.  The ordinary pedals remain in place which was a wise move because as a kid, I remember someone in our village having one.  He spent more time going purple pedalling trying to start the engine than he ever did being propelled along.

Good idea from BSA, ruined by reliability

V twin Indian, but with a Moto Guzzi configuration
How rare is this???

Rotary-engined Suzuki RE5 from the early 70's

Nice NZ kit car from the 70's based on a VW floor pan and engine

Messerschmitt bubble car first produced in 1955
White car is a Suzuki!!

The vehicle below is a U.S-built contraption from many decades ago. Forward power was provided by lowering the central wheel with a hand-operated lever and no clutch so take-off might have been just a touch rapid!  Similarly, disengaging drive at critical moments may have been a trifle hair-raising; made even worse by the brakes which you can see as blocks which press directly onto the tread of the tyres. Medical insurance was presumably mandatory!

Voted least likely to be a commercial success....

Before we came home, we dropped into the small town of Otaki to look at a Maori church which had been rebuilt a few years ago after it had been virtually destroyed by arson.  The restoration work is stunning.  Traditional Maori decoration lines the church.  The grey vertical panels in the church are woven from strips of the native flax plant and the buff-coloured lining on the roof is comprised of individual stems of a native plant not unlike pampas grass.  Every pew space has a magnificent hand-embroidered kneeling cushion and embroiderers from round the world donated their time to make them - quite moving.  I'm not a religious person, but worshipping in a place like this rebuilt with so much love and natural light must be quite an experience.

Church entrance

Looking away from the altar

So there we are..... a few photos from our travels.  Hope that you enjoyed seeing them - nothing quite like road trips!


  1. Hi Geoff, good to read that you guys didn't get bored. The pictures are gorgeous. I hope you will have some more to share, that is if you find the time, but hey winter is coming your way... ;-)

    1. Hey Sonja!!
      Thank you! Winter is almost non-existent on the Peninsula :-). Back into the IAM work now except.... we have the best part of April overseas to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and Jennie hasn't a clue where we're going. Might just have some pictures from that...

  2. Wonderful pics from your trip. I love the rugged remote landscapes in the first couple. Reminds me a little of Eastern Oregon.

    That's quite an interesting selection of cars and motorcycles. It's been a while since we've done any car shows, but I don't think we have as many unusual vehicles types as you seem to find.

  3. Hi Kari!
    Cheers - I think there are a lot of similarities with Oregon, particularly as you head south.

    The volume of old and weird vehicles over here probably stems from being pretty geographically remote in days gone by. Vehicle owners tended to keep their vehicles rather than replace them. Thank goodness for that eh?

  4. geoff:

    You made my day. Thank you for making an appearance. I know someone who owns a Tatra, they have an aircooled V8 engine, very modern design for its time.

    One of the guys in the scooter club has a Triumph Tigress 250, and you see it all the time, but I imagine parts are a challenge

    I liked that Gull Wing Mercedes SL300. Our former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau owned one. I used to go to car shows to, but not so much these days.

    I wonder where you are going . . . have a Happy 40th Anniversary

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. Mate, I havernt been to southwards for about 15 years, I remember being in awe when I did go, so much to see. It is a stunning collection.

    i have yet to ride gentle Annie, need to knock that off the bucket list soon. Look great by all accounts, I will take your advice and not treat it as a race track.....could be waiting a while tobe found by all accounts.

    nice of you to pop back..allbut breifly!

  6. Hi Bob!
    We aim to please ;-) .... thank you! I didn't know anything about the Tatra maker, but they're really modern from the front too. One of my neighbours has a Tigress too, albeit in bits. Panels might be an issue but there always seems to be a fanatic in the world who makes parts for most things!

    I remember Pierre Trudeau - bit of a playboy. Guess that dates me, not that you were under any illusions to start with :-).

    It's not our 40th until July but there's a reason for the trip being earlier. You'll just have to wait, won't you??? :-)

    Rog matey!
    It's changed so much since I was there and there's a basement with even more stuff in it. If you do Gentle Annie, there's a British car museum between Clive and Cape Kidnappers which is worth visiting. They've even got a Wolsley 6/110 which is what I had when courting Jennie but that's another story ;-).

    See you in a couple of weekends hopefully but will talk before then.

  7. You swear off of blogging...and then you tempt us with this?? Come back anytime!! Always love to read of your adventures. Looks like a spectacular trip. I remember reading of Gentle Annie on Bandit Riders blog. Absolutely gorgeous. And you are right. That museum is a must see!

    Great to see you online. Hope you and Jennie are well.


  8. Hi Lori!

    Sigh.... can't win, can I??? Well, there wasn't much writing involved so it was easy to upload the photos whilst I was downloading them from the camera.

    Yes, great trip thanks - Autumn is a great time to be on the road. Best wishes to you and Oilburner.

  9. Wow, there is so much good stuff in that post I just don't even know what to comment on. The beautiful vistas or cool pics from the car museum. I am on neat picture overload so I'll just say we miss reading your posts. Thanks for sharing some more fun with us.

    Have a great time next month on your anniversary trip. We'll beg for a post on it if we have to.

  10. Hi Brandy!
    Thanks,I thought there was some interesting stuff too which is why I put them up - an eclectic mix of stuff really.

    I might well post some anniversary pictures if it all pans out ok.

    Safe riding!

  11. Thanks for posting, it is always a pleasure to read your blog and admire your photos. When Brandy or I spot your post we exclaim "Hey, Geoff posted!" and we have to stop and read it.
    It'll be a couple more months before we get dry weather and car shows (not too many museums around here), but we'll be sure to get some pics. We'll also be searching for Oregon's Gentle Annie this year too and keep you posted.
    Take care and say hi to Jennie.

  12. Hi Brad!
    Thanks so much for the kind words, it's nice to put up photos which might be interesting in other countries. Looking forward to your travels too as soon as the weather allows. We're actually looking at a vacation in the USA and/or Canada in the next 2-3 years so it's great to see photos from your part of the world to give it a "real" dimension.

    You guys take care too and best wishes with the training...

  13. Nice photos! Thank you for sharing them. I like the Mercedes Gullwing shot. I've always liked the way they looked. For some reason, For some reason I never expected NZ to look like eastern WA. I thought it was green everywhere.

    Thanks for the post!

  14. Hi Richard and thanks.
    Well, it's the end of summer and Gentle Annie is on the drier side of the island so it does tend to brown off a bit at this time of year.

    Enjoyed your travels very much too, even if I didn't get round to replying (sorry)!

  15. Great pics of some classic machines!

  16. Geoff

    You have had more come backs than Bob Dylan!

    I think bubble cars may be making a come back what with the oil price and all that...


  17. Canajun:
    Yep, far more interesting than most of today's bland offerings.

    Well, the SMART car isn't that far removed from a bubble car!

  18. I'm with you on the Bond Bug! Never saw one before. I'm afraid the Smart car is sort of like the BSA bike--decent idea ruined by unreliability...that and not getting much better gas mileage than it does.

    Great to hear from you and thanks for the share.
    Circle Blue

  19. Hi Keith!
    I don't think the Bugs sold in large numbers which was a real pity. The Bond and Reliant companies both made 3-wheelers, most of which were both uninspiring and unreliable (If you've ever seen Mr Bean movies and the TV series, there was a Reliant in those. The Bug was released when the company was on the way out - a real shame.

  20. Lovely to see you dropping by occasionally! What a fab trip - beaut photos!


  21. Cheers Sue! Might havetime to stick up some photos of our 40th Anniversary trip next month if all goes well.

    Safe riding!


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