Life is full of unexpected turns, not the least this year when I did some work, as a driver, for a bee company in Masterton.
What you may well ask does this have to do with 4WDs and four-wheel-driving?
A lot as it turns out. In fact, when I started I found that it was like doing a full-on 4WD trip every day. Or should I say, every night?
That’s’ right, all the work is done as the sun sets and then on into the night. It’s called the hunt for the Manuka flower and the honey the bees produce from it. My job was to move hives around the country during the hours of darkness, with a side kick along to help keep one awake.
The prime off-road vehicle we used was a Isuzu NPS300 4x4 light truck, fitted with bigger than normal mud grip tyres, a flat deck and crane to load the pallets of hives.
The tracks we used were many and varied from riverbeds to farm tracks and lane ways, to forestry roads, existing tracks, freshly bulldozed, even just cross country, from the East Cape to Taranaki and south to the Wairarapa.
It’s country any 4WDer would love to get into, with some short sections, and some long taking an hour or more one way, with lots of slow first and second gear 4WD work, especially when loaded.
Sometimes I got to run a track in daylight for the first pickup of the evening, other times it was simply a case of ‘follow the yellow brick road’ (on the mapping system) into the unknown.
Our yellow brick road has warning symbols and notes re the track, sometimes helpful, others not so, but it all adds to the adrenaline rush as one tops a rise and sees the track vanishing under the front of the cab going downhill as one grabs first gear to crawl down a steep section.
Another fairly common scenario was the need to do a 360 degree turn (either up or downhill) which would require at least a two but more often a three point turn….with the knowledge that’s there’s a fairly sizable drop on at least one of the sides.
So if you have ever wondered about those bee-hives on the side of a track when on Safari, it’s most likely a little truck that’s delivered them to the site during the night. And if you are having problems during the day, just think to yourself that someone has done it at night, possibly not having been there before, and in a truck.
All you have to do is follow a yellow line on a map…