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Day 10: Dunedin to Queenstown

 Wednesday 7th April: 

Host: Southern Mustang Owners Club

Although the morning dawned wet, the weather forecast was promising Wal promised at morning briefing. And so it was as the convoy roared out of the hotel car park at 9 am, reinvigorated with a half dozen new Southern Club cars, and within 10 mins had passed out of the rain.  By the time the cars reached Clarksville just south of Milton and the turn off to Central Otago, the weather had fully cleared and it remained fine for the rest of the day. There was some concern when, as the convoy paused on the side of the road at Clarksville to regroup, a traffic officer coming the other way stopped, got out and approached the cars. However it transpired that he was just another Mustang Enthusiast / Owner,  and had paused to admire the cars!

The convoy pauses at Clarksville : Pic John Noble

With the cars regrouped the convoy proceeded on towards Central Otago, passed through the historic town of Lawrence and eventually reached  Roxburgh at 11 am for morning tea at Jimmy's pie shop. Now Jimmy's Pies are world famous in Central Otago, so everyone popped into the tiny shop to sample a Jimmy's pie. The general agreement was that they were really tasty pies alright. (i actually had an apple pie, and it was yummy too! Wal). With Pie tasting completed there was a short walk up the road to view Colin Robb's excellent collection of unrestored original condition English Fords.  (He runs the local Ford agency and also has a 66 Mustang). It was fascinating to see Prefects, a Consol 315, Anglia's, and Zephyrs which at one time were everyday sights, but now are increasingly rare. (A personal letter of thanks from the event has been sent to Colin)

Colin Robb's English Ford Collection. Pic John Noble

Then it was 11.30 am and time to depart Roxburgh for Alexandra approx 40 k away. This leg passes the Roxburgh Hydro dam, and through classic Central Otago landscape of mountain, stark rock and dry desert-like terrain. Arrival in Alexandra was slightly complicated in that Pioneer park where it was planned to park had (just the week before) been ringed by a post and chain fence which prevented any vehicle access to the grass. The convoy circled the park looking for an entry but eventually settled for a row of angle parks on the northern end of the park which did just as well. At the park to greet us were a couple of local cars including the 67 convertible of Jack Samuel, who admitted that he was the contractor who installed the new chain fence! (Local newspaper coverage is here)

Convoy parks for lunch in Alexandra, beside the new chain fence.

While most went for walks downtown to get lunch, others chatted to the local press, and a few drove off to gas-up. Other engaged in more robust activities such as the Morgans and Seekup families who played baseball in the adjacent park.

At 1.00 pm it was depart time for Cromwell, by driving past the Clyde dam, and along the new Cromwell gorge road (the original having been drowned when Lake Dunstan was formed behind the new dam).

Roger Neilson's 69 Mach 1 leads the convoy cruising through the Cromwell Gorge.

At Cromwell, the cars parked briefly at the top of the old main street beside the Victoria Hotel. This was affectionately known (in pre dam days) as the "top pub" (there being originally a bottom and middle pub as well, before the main street and swing bridge across the gorge, was flooded by Lake Dunstan.)

Parked up in Cromwell outside the historic Victoria Hotel

2pm and the convoy departed for Queenstown on SH 6A through the scenic Kawarau Gorge. It by now a beautiful sunny day, as you can see in the picture below.

Brilliant sun accompanies the convoy as it cruises through the Kawarau Gorge

After the delightful drive through the gorge the cars turned right towards Arrowtown. Here the convoy proceeded into the centre of the town circled it and parked in the southern entrance. The town looked magnificent but the trees had not quite turned into the full autumn colouring everyone was hoping for.

Entering Arrowtown; Cruising the main street; Parked on the Southern Entrance

After a 20 min pause to absorb the scenery, (and to discuss the Shepherd's newly rebuilt Mach 1 motor which had begin to blow blue smoke), the cars headed out at 3.00 pm for the final leg of the day to Queenstown via the scenic Arthur's Point back road. This route took the convoy right past the Shotover jet launch point, a site to which a number of them were planning to return later that day. Into Queenstown (and a traffic jam!), and up the hill to our Motel for the night the Blue Peaks lodge.

Once everyone had checked in there was a general dispersal around the town for shopping, drinking and sightseeing. However 6 brave souls stayed on and grabbed the shuttle bus to the Shotover jet departure point at Arthur's point. From here they were fitted with rain coats and lifejackets and warily climbed about one of the spunky Jet boats for a ride they will not forget in a hurry! It was fast, (80kph) very cold (wind chill near zero) , very wet, and very much like rally driving on a river with lots of very wide sideways slides preparing for corners.  Overall impression was fantastic!!

The Shotover Jet experience: (All 5 pic's by Sandy Farrell on Wals Camera)
1.? (Ken Arnold's Friend) , Mark Shepherd, Les Sutherland, ? Wal Marshall, Syd Mitchell.
2. Mid river spins were a soaking experience!
3. Returning, very wet but impressed

4. Inspecting the 2x 300 hp supercharged Buick V6 jet engines
5. Its all over !

After such an exciting ride, the run back to motel was somewhat of an anticlimax, but the traffic was just as thick in the downtown area.

At 6.30 pm everyone assembled at the motel lobby to discuss where to go for the evening. Preliminary plans to ride the gondola to the skyline and have a meal in the restaurant at the top had to be abandoned as several million other tourists had beat us to it! Plan B was to search for somewhere offering a reasonable priced buffet meal. This turned out to be no easy task as buffets are now a rare commodity in Queenstown. However after a frantic search unearthed the Sherwood Manor, which confirmed it could hand an influx of about 18 hungry Mustangers. Taxis were ordered up and off we went to enjoy a relaxing drink or two and fine meal. When we returned to the Motel afterwards a few keen partygoers headed downtown, but the majority headed to their units to get a relatively early night in preparation for what would be another long day tomorrow.

 Day 11