Bits Missed Tour
BY Rosalie Maundery
30 October we left home at 8.30 a.m. just as the power went off. While driving
from our gate we could see black smoke and flame coming from the oil refinery
chimney. Turning on the car radio we heard that power was off all the way from
Auckland to the top of the country. The oil refinery which shuts down
automatically when electric power is lost sends unprocessed material up the
flare stack to be burnt as a safety precaution.
Road works and Auckland's traffic saw us have a slow drive down to Hamilton,
arriving at Ed and Annette's at around 12.30 p.m. The four of us set off on a
tiki tour to Taupo to meet up with the rest of the Bits Missed tourists. Through
Whatawhata, down to Te Awamutu for our first fuel stop then across country to
Bryce's Wharepapa Out Door cafe for lunch.
We stopped for photos at Waipapa Dam and more at Maraetai Dams one and two, what
a feat of engineering. We peered through the fence at several new transformers
waiting to be installed. We were told they weighed 60 tons each. I was impressed
by what I saw.
Below we see the Waipapa Lake Bridge
and the Maraetai Dam.
We then went down through Whakamaru towards Lake Taupo, with a great drive
around picturesque Acacia Bay. We stopped at the shops before checking into our
motel then we all got together for a chat and drink before dinner. There were 6
P76's, an MX5 and an Aston Martin AMV8. Clive feels it only appropriate to
bring his V8 in a P76 Club run.
Breakfast at 8 at Friends Cafe saw us negotiating the very large servings! I
ordered an omelette that must have had at least 6 eggs in it, easily feeding
two. I couldn't even manage half of it, what a waste!
Moving onto Rotorua we meet up with Alex, Lois, Pauline and Robert heading onto
Whakatane. Now there were 7 P76's. We stopped at Awakeri for fuel and as we left
another P76 turned up and the driver had a chat to Ed. Turned out he was a
member just passing and saw the group. Our lunch stop at Opotiki had closed down
so we another further down the road and had a good meal before heading across
country to Gisborne. A lovely drive.
We stopped at Matawai as Mike's car was suffering from fuel starvation, not
because we wanted to go to the historic pub there. We didn't go to the pub. We
arrived at the Mahia Beach Motel about 6 p.m. Dinner was at Cafe Mahia at 7 but
by the time Ed had rounded up some of the group who had mistakenly gone to the
local pub (yeah right) thinking it was where we were going to eat we arrived a
little late for dinner. The relieved look on the faces of the staff awaiting our
arrival on the veranda to greet us was plain to see.
They were very friendly people. Two youngsters served us, a boy about 9 and a
girl of about 12 years of age. They did a great job offering excellent food and
making it a great night out.
Below we see Ed and Fred's cars in a scenic spot near the dams. This is the
country you miss out on if you don't come along for the ride.
The next morning we awoke to an extremely
cold day. A pity as the motel was just across the road from the beach and I
would have liked to have gone for a walk... We had a photo shoot trying to keep
out of the wind. It was the quickest photo shoot on record, we quickly bundled
ourselves back into the cars and headed for Wairoa.
We were to breakfast at cafe 287 south of Wairoa. Mike's car was still giving
trouble at Waihu where we stopped for Paul to photograph an old truck. Don
stayed with Mike to help if required and Merv and Rose shot off to visit some
friends. They know someone everywhere! The rest of us carried on. The road
between Waihu and Tutira is a very enjoyable drive. I enjoyed the scenery and
the river running by the road. We stopped at Lake Tutira in the hope that Mike
would catch up. The Station surrounding the lake once farmed 38,000 sheep. The
small camping ground was the site of the shearing shed partly built out over the
lake. Leaving the lake we onto Napier, drove through the port, along Marine
Parade which looked very crowded. There seemed to be a gathering of some sort.
Out through Clive and turn left to Haumoana to visit the British Car Museum.
When we arrived at midday Ian Hope, the proprietor told us that a Nutmeg P76
with Targa mags had visited in the morning expecting to find us there. That was
Calvin Mackie from Taradale.
After a good look around the cars we left about 1 p.m. We heard that Mike had
got to Napier and was leaving for home. Leaving the museum we took a back road
on our way to Waipukurau. We didn't get to drive the entire back road as we were
stopped by a fallen tree. So back we went the way we had come, having a late
lunch in Havelock North at 2p.m.
What Ed forgot to tell you all is that Haumoana is my home village, the school
at the top of the hill after the museum is where I went to primary school and
the scenic back road is the Tuki Tuki River valley and this was the second time
the club has been prevented from driving this route! Rob Jones.
Next stop Dave's Den in Dannevirke, a shed with floor to ceiling model cars on
display and for sale. Don and Merv caught up us here. Merv used to live just up
Don went onto the motel in Palmerston North with the rest of us arriving later,
but in time for a nice dinner at the Rose and Crown Pub. Paul and Linda left for
home after dinner and Merv and Rose stayed at a friend's motel.
The next morning we awoke to light rain (well it is Palmerston North) The MX5
and Aston Martin left for Wellington and the 3 remaining P76's of Ed, Fred and
Don were left to head north but not before breakfast and a trip to Ezibuy for
Annette, Elva and Rosalie. A relieved bunch of guys hit the road at 10. To
Fielding, then onto Cheltenham, Kimbolton, and the Mangaweka Gorge. It is 30
years since Fred and I have been on this road and back then it was a narrow
metal road clinging to the side of the gorge. That trip was in a P76 also.
The road is now much improved being completely rebuilt and sealed but there were
still a few rocks fallen onto the road.
We stopped at Taihape for lunch and then onto Waiouru with snow covering the
mountains and ranges. We stopped for photos but my camera decided that its
battery was flat by now.
On again with no stops until to Putaruru for fuel where we parted on our own
routes for home. Fred and I stopped in Pukekohe for tea and arrived home about
9.15 p.m. We had a very enjoyable weekend, marred only by what happened the next
morning when we went to put the P76 away after cleaning it. The oil light would
not go out and the motor was letting us know it wanted more oil! The pump was
not picking up oil so Fred dismantled it to find the relief valve stuck open.
After cleaning off the varnish to free the valve, packing the gears with
Vaseline and cutting a new gasket it picked up oil immediately. Good work Fred.