Story & photos by Vicky Newport
The Nelson 4 Wheel Drive Club started 2017 with a very quiet January but come February we got pretty busy.
Over the February 11-12 weekend we entered a few Club Trucks in the Nelson Motor Show and we must have had a pretty good display as we went home with the Top Club Display Trophy.
The following weekend, February 18-19, seemed like a good date to head to Reefton and do a grade 3/5 trip as most of our shiny trucks were away doing a week-long Southern Safari around the Central Otago area.
Reefton is a two-and-a-half hour run from Nelson and we set off on the Friday afternoon to make the most of a weekend away. The weather was perfect, sunny and very hot indeed.
Scotty Newport was our Trip Leader for the weekend. An earlyish start (9am) was planned except we had a bit of a wait as the power had gone out and the Saturday arrivals had to fuel up. No matter, 9.30am we were on the road with Scotty thinking that we would get the worst track over and done with first.
This track was a wee bit overgrown at the beginning so Scotty used his Surf to push a bit of scrub aside so the shinier trucks didn't get too scratched. And do you know what? We had a great run. Most of our trucks still run 33” tyres (a couple on 35”) so we all did extremely well against the deep ruts. We are a bit relaxed on the tyre size when we are on the West Coast as most driving those tracks these days are on bigger tyres.
Scotty had a great run driving the whole track. A couple of the other trucks had to winch or get a snatch over a couple of humps. But not our Tail End Charlie, Sarah. She was expecting and hoping to get some use out of her new winch but her navi (Sav) must have pointed her in the right direction with her driving and she didn't need to winch…much to her disgrace!
After negotiating the Saw Pit track we popped out onto Top End Road (or White Elephant Road as the locals call it) and drove down it for a bit before turning into our next track of the day.
Last time I was on this track one of our trucks decided to lay over on its side so we were going to try and avoid that this time around. It was a nice, quiet drive in too, arriving at Green Hutt at lunch time.
Next up was Maori Gully. We drove up the first part of it, got around the first corner but then diffed out. Hmmm. Not really a track for 33 inch tyres anymore unless you want to do a lot of winching.
Scotty decided not to take the club up this one this time, as we all had to drive home at the end of the weekend. So we backed out and let the keen ones have a play. Both Suzukis got around the whole track, a few others followed.
One km Track
Then came the enticingly named One Kilometre track. “A quick track, won't take long,” Scotty said. “It's only a km long!” And so we turned in with all the trucks following.
However, the track started getting very narrow, with ruts all the way up the side of the Surf and we came to a stop. Either the ruts on the driver's side were above the window or we were on our side! And Scotty had to climb over me to get out my window to go for a wee walk.
I also crawled out, walked a wee way up the track with Scotty and found a nice turn around spot. I did suggest we could all turn around up further but Scotty just gave me the stare.
If we could have turned around where we were we would have but there was no going back now. We were also diffed out. So it was a case of out with the spades so the guys could flatten the track a bit. And with two winches we managed to get up on the flat.
After that most trucks had to winch at least (with a quick snatch) once to get through.
And that was us for the day. We headed out on Soldiers Road and at 4.00pm were back in Reefton with a bit of time to relax before dinner at the local pub.
A run up the Petrol Hill track was our half day plan for Sunday. Down one truck (Sarah and Sav) as they weren't able to fix the problem 100%. The rest of us left at 9.00am back up to Soldiers Road.
Once at the Big River sign we stopped so hubs could be put in and tyres let down if needed. A bit further up the track we turned into Petrol Hill – which was a wee bit overgrown - then into ‘the Creek.
This brought back memories as this Creek drive just seems to go on and on. Through some beautiful scenery it must be said, and with some interesting lines to be driven. Anyway, we got through to the bog, which was in better condition than it had been the last time we were there.
Scotty picked a line. One winch per truck and we all got through, except for the Keys Brothers (James and Ben). They like a challenge so picked another line. Lucky the ToyZuk (Suzuki) is small because they squeezed their way through a very rutted line only losing one flare.
Once out of there we headed to Petrol Hill and were first there so out with the winch rope, it was hooked up to a tree and we were up in no time. As were the nine other trucks in tow, we had them up in pretty good time.
After a bite to eat we then started to head back to Reefton with one more stop down Soldiers Road. Alf had radioed up a bit concerned about a noise coming out of the front of his Jeep. So it was out with the high-lift jack.
Lucky these guys have mechanical skills and carry spare parts because Alf’s front axle universal had broken. So it was out with the broken one and in with a dummy one to hold the wheel bearing together… and we were back in Reefton by 1.00pm. A great morning and heaps of time to get home.
Most of our trucks are driven, a couple were trailered down, and with no major issues most of us headed off to Nelson and one member headed the other way to Christchurch.
What a great weekend. The West Coast has so much to offer. Reefton in particular has a lot handy to town from Grade 1 shiny trips right through to Grade 5 harder trips.
To read every story in the May 2017 issue of NZ4WD go to Zinio.com (April 21) or purchase your own hard copy at the Adrenalin store.