2009 in Pukekohe
BY Bryan Lawrence
(click on image for a full size picture)
Obviously the main focus of AGM
weekend, wherever the location may be, is the AGM; but the annual event
also promises convivial company and interesting driving. Pukekohe in
March was no exception.
Our MX5 ("the smallest car to grace a P76 Club event") was our default
vehicle of choice, as the Jaguar was only just back on the road after a
lengthy lay-up, and I didn't fancy my chances of the long run from (and
back to) Wellington passing without mechanical incident. Besides, March
still held the promise of some "topless driving" weather.
We were going to share accommodation with Merv Cox and Rose Bendall, but
they were late withdrawals, feeling rather banged up after a "woopsie"
in their RAV4 the previous weekend. So our first port of call was their
place in Levin, to make sure they really were OK. With the help of our
trusty Tom Tom GPS we plotted a route to Pukekohe that largely avoided
SH1, and we had a very pleasant journey north (even if the weather was
not conducive to "topless driving".)
Having stayed there on the "Northern Sights" trip in November, BK's
Motor Lodge felt almost like home. We were soon unpacked (you can't pack
much in an MX5 anyway!) and heading towards the pool and barbecue area
for a convivial meet and greet evening. I'm told I provided some of the
entertainment later in the evening. I blame the medication. . . A lot of
members took advantage of the motel pool; it was beautiful after a hot
drive. Maybe the most swimmers I've ever seen at a club meeting?
we see the convivial company on display atop Pukekohe Hill.
Surprisingly, on Saturday morning,
the head was somewhat clearer than the weather overhead. This was
brought home when we reached the top of Pukekohe Hill for a photoshoot,
the results of which would adorn a commemorative T-shirt. Still, the
mist added a certain moody, arty class to the photos! Moody P76's follow
over the page.
Fortunately the weather cleared some as we headed out of town for a very
pleasant cruise to Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames for lunch at "NZ's Best
Fish 'n' Chips". I can't vouch for the claim, but they were pretty
After a leisurely lunch and a stroll along the beach to walk at least
some of it off, we were back on the road heading for Clyde Walters'
property in Paparimu. Philip's notes simply said "sheds for inspection".
This did not give the slightest hint of the treasure trove we were about
to encounter. To say Clyde collects old cars and motorbikes is about as
big an understatement as one could find! Thanks for the invitation,
Clyde. It was a great way to wind up an interesting afternoon.
A small part of one of
Clyde's sheds, spot Linda in the middle. Believe it or not the
stocks held in the sheds and on the mezzanine floors are all in
Sunday morning promised slightly
better weather, and we even started off with the top down.
Unfortunately, we hadn't even got out of Pukekohe before showers started
taunting us, so back up went the hood, and there it stayed for the rest
of the day (although it has to be said that the weather turned out OK).
Our destination this morning was the Manukau Heads Lighthouse (what is
it about P76 Club and lighthouses?) and the drive out was over some
wonderful roads with stunning views. The most striking thing was how
quiet and empty the roads were, despite being so close to the "big
smoke". Counties people must dread the day when Aucklanders discover
this gem right on their doorstep.
Views from the lighthouse and adjacent lookout were spectacular You can
see from the rugged West Coast coastline and across the narrow entrance
of the Manukau Harbour to the Auckland suburbs with the Skytower looming
in the background.
Is it a wagon train, is a
queue to get to the toilets, not it's almost a circle of
Leyland's accompanied by a Honda S2000 and Mazda MX5 beneath the
Manukau Heads Lighthouse, Bryan Lawrence is correct, we do have
a thing about lighthouses and if there is one in the vicinity of
a club event we visit it, no matter how many steps there are to
the top - this one is small and accessible compared to the other
ones we have been to.
Sunday lunch was had at the Orua Bay
birdpark. The place was not set up for an onslaught such as we provided
(very small food counter, no till, and not even a calculator to add up
the bill!) However, we all got fed and had a very pleasant hour or so
sitting at the barbecue tables and wandering around the bird park
(some making particular friends with the local cockatoo!)
While Cocky and I got on
Abby was not at all sure about this big bird sitting on
The sensible ones had decided to
take an extra day so they could properly explore the area on Sunday
afternoon, but we needed to head south so after lunch bid our farewells
and hit the road for the long drive back to Wellington.
The Last Bit
by Rob Jones
People leaving the birdpark brought some more rain that chased the
Jones's out of the park, which was a shame, as we wanted to stay longer.
However, we did manage to latch onto Ed and Paul leaving the car park so
we followed them as you do. Another beautiful drive through undulating
bush and farmland, following a stream of Leyland's, saw us arrive at
Graham's Beach - a gorgeous beach with a children's playground,
Pohutukawa trees and sand for miles and miles and no more rain. It was
low tide so the extensive sands were plain to see.
After some chat, swings, a stroll on the beach and more photos a lessor
number of us headed to the Glenfield Vintage Railway where a "Thomas
Family Day" was in full swing. There must have been thousands there over
the whole day. We all appreciated the fun atmosphere brought about by
Thomas and his friends. We rode Todd on the long line in vintage
carriages and Thomas in the yards on a short run in old open freight
cars. Trevor the Traction engine was chugging around to.
The small group of P76's in the paddock was drawing favourable comments
from the public even before we we'd all parked up. The AEB Deluxe was
the last P76 to leave. In fact the paddock was nearly empty when we left
for Pukekohe and a great steak dinner for those of us who stayed the
Thank you to Philip, Jude and team for a wonderful weekend of touring an
area we hadn't seen before.
A P76 not seen for a long
time at a Club event is the BA Deluxe of Clyde Walters. As you
can see it sports a few refinements from the old days of Graham
Farrs' ownership. Clyde ditched (or sold at a huge profit) the
Auburn diff and whatever the gearbox was and installed a Leyland
diff and 4 speed box, a sweet sounding twin system, a sunroof, a
Super headlight and grill set and a propensity to have
"sustained loss of traction" off most intersections or wherever
else one may be forced to stop and restart!
John Rossen's unique
Nutmeg Super is part of the "moody" line up of Leyland's atop
Pukekohe Hill. We are certain this is the only Austin P76
registered in New Zealand. That is what the registration label
says - Austin P76. There is a story behind it but at present I
can't recall it.
Also atop the hill from a different angle we can see twelve Leyland's
in nine different colours.
Winner of the Dale Rawlings
Memorial Trophy - People's Choice on the day was Brian Morris
who had probably travelled the greatest distance also having
come from Waikouaiti in Otago. This shot is at Graham's Beach
and shows off the rear aerofoil and colour coded PMAG rear
louver. It doesn't show you the complete black leather interior.