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Day 11: Queenstown to Invercargill

 Thursday 8th April

Host: Southern Mustang Owners Club

It was a misty and very frosty start to the morning. Hot water washed the ice off the windscreens but they had to be wiped off immediately or the ice would just reform. 8.30 am briefing by Vic Keen completed, the cars struggled into the heavy morning traffic past the motel and out to regroup at Frankton. By now the sun was starting burning through the patches of fog, and the blue sky was brightening up nicely.


 McDonalds in their Shelby, wait in a crisp Frankton morning for the convoy to depart.

With the convoy regrouped the cars headed out for Kingston, but hardly had we started than road works brought us to a halt again for about 5 mins at the Frankton control gate bridge .


The convoy waits for a road-works blockage to be cleared at the single lane Frankton Bridge.

Then it was off for the fabulous scenic cruise along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to our appointment with the Kingston flyer.


The ice begins to melt on the hood of the Boss as it heads towards Kingston.

9.45 am and the convoy arrives at Kingston for the photo shoot beside the "Kingston Flyer". This was the location where another half a dozen cars from the Southern club were waiting to join the convoy boosting total numbers to nearly 30. The convoy circled the smoking engine, and there was time for everyone to get a car/steam engine picture, and for a few people to buy a ticket and jump aboard before the train headed out to Fairlight.


The Kingston Flyer looked magnificent as the Ponies lined up for a picture.

The cars moved out and down Highway 6 for about 10 mins to arrive at the Fairlight station. We hoped to see the train come steaming in.


Waiting at Fairlight for the train to come in.

However as the train was delayed, the cars moved onto Athol for morning coffee. Athol Wether is a Ford guy who runs the a local petrolhead focused cafe. The food was excellent as were the interesting pictures of cars which covered the walls, including one of hundreds of wrecked cars in a US junk yard. (Fortunately no-one was able to find any Mustangs in the wreckers large collection!)

11.00 am, back to the cars and time to depart for Five Rivers, Mossburn and Te Anau. The drive went real smooth although there were a few header grinding dips to contend with! Into Te Anau came the convoy an amazing 30 mins early (!!) at 12.30 pm. The planned Lions Park site was abandoned in favour of a vacant grassy spot somewhat closer to the town centre. Participants rapidly dissipated around Te Anau for a leisurely 1.5 hr lunch break. The weather remained beautifully sunny and warm. Local media coverage


Driving into Te Anau. Pic Sandy Farrell

With appetites fully satisfied, the convoy departed at 2.00 pm. Vic Keen was lead car and planned to take the cars on a circuit of Te Anau before heading for Manapouri. However at least half the cars got lost, took a shortcut and Vic found himself towards the back of the convoy instead of at the front! Not being a man to hesitate, the participants were treated to the sight of Vic's silver 71 Mach blasting past in a quest to regain his lost position at the front. By the time we got to Manapouri, Vic was only a couple of cars from the front. The convoy did a circuit of Manapouri, and with Vic repositioned at the front headed on with the great Southern tour , the first stop of which was Tuatapere. By 3 pm the cars had arrived in Tuatapere without further incident, (other than driving through some passing showers) and parked up for a 30 min coffee/drinks break at the local Hotel across the road.


Parked up at Tuatapere. The weather is just beginning to go off.

The weather by now was definitely cooling down, and it was good to get back in the cars for the remainder of the drive to Invercargill. Departing Tuatapere, the next stop on Vic's guided tour of Southland was McCracken's Rest. Here, Vic assured us, was the freshest air in NZ, straight from Antarctica. After getting out of the cars to test the air, there were few in the party who would have contested that claim! Vic even protested his disappointment that we couldn't see any icebergs!

        
McCrackens Rest, on the Southland Coast: The freshest (and coldest!) air in NZ.

Departing McCracken's rest was interesting for the stands of Macrocarpa trees beside the road, which were massively wind profiled to the extent that they had bleached white trunks and branches, and had been bent over almost to the horizontal. Onward south the convoy cruised, through Colac Bay, Riverton and finally into Invercargill in passing showers. By 4.30 pm we had arrived and checked into the Homestead Villa Motel. The McDonalds Shelby had started making noises in the diff again so it went off to have that looked at. (Turned out the same axle bearing replaced at Nelson had collapsed again, so another new bearing was fitted). Mark Shepherds 73 Mach 1 was still smoky so it too needed some attention. (Subsequently Mark advised it had a broken rocker bolt).

Shortly after check-in, Wal was visited by a close friend from Invercargill, Graeme Webby. Sadly misled, this GM fan brought his Z28 Camaro along and took Wal for a blast. Result? I wouldn't want to swap said Wal, but it was a great experience.


High performance muscle: Ford vs GM: Wal's 69 Boss 429, Graeme Webby's 72 Camaro Z28.

During day 11, the convoy had met up with an Australian couple who were holidaying in NZ, Dennis and Denise Going. They owned a blue 68 coupe, and were immediately invited to join us for the event dinner and to join the convoy for the final run to Bluff tomorrow. Dennis subsequently put some pictures of the event on his personal website. Go here.

And so to the last part of the day, Dinner!!  The Southern club arranged a mini bus taxi to transport their guests to the Big Willy Rustlers restaurant. Here the fare was to select your steak/pork/fish etc, (and your choice of accompanying salads) and cook it yourself on the hot plates provided. YUM!!. The Southern guys had also arranged to show everyone a video of their Mustang and Falcon show last year, also a video that Les Sutherland had made of the Run over the previous two days. They also had raffles for three lots of Bluff oysters, and handed out good Southland Swedes, chocolates and stout to all out of town visitors to take home. Fantastic job guys, well done!