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Day 5: New Plymouth to Masterton

Friday 2nd April

Section 1: Host Taranaki Mustang Owners Club

No surprise for us all when we woke on Friday morning to discover that it was still raining!. However seeing Noel and Snelly's faces looking out at us from the morning paper lifted our spirits considerably. After a briefing by Noel we were into our cars and off to Hawera right on time at 9 am. The drive was in rain almost all the way. On arrival at the "Big Cow" at the South end of Hawera, we squelched the Mustangs gingerly over the wet grass to park in a semi circle at the front of Dairyland. (Local Press coverage)

The stangs form a semi circle around Fontera's Dairyland show building.

Umbrellas out again we dashed inside for a well earned coffee and cake, while outside the rain eased off long enough for a few pictures to be taken. A few fast drinkers managed a rushed dash around inside the display area in the building, but for most of us that experience will have to wait for another day.

Section 2: Host Manawatu Mustang Owners Club

11 am and it was time for a quick group photo, and the Manawatu club to lead the convoy off to Wanganui and Palmerston North.  It was at this stage that Chris Hince, having worked almost day and night for 2 weeks to get his car ready after a major rebuild, and heading north to join us, suffered his first breakdown at Wanganui. This was however unknown to his wife, who carried on in the family wagon to meet the convoy just south of Hawera. Meantime the convoy was passing Paul Campbell and Jackie Ferries in their 1995 GT, which was parked on the side of the road in Patea with the hood ominously up! Tail end Charley John Camm stopped to lend assistance and discovered a power steering hose chaffed through. Fortunately a short trip back to the local garage soon had the car under repair. (During the repair Paul and Jackie found time to discover an excellent local restaurant and were later heard telling stories of huge servings and great food. (What was that place again Paul??).

(Any pics??)

The convoy pressed on leaving Paul's GT and Chris's 65 to their fate and by midday was proceeding right down the main street of Wanganui at a snails pace due to the heavy traffic congestion. (Check the local press coverage).

Wals Boss 429 crawls down Main Street Wanganui. (From Local press cover)

 During the crawling traffic Wals Boss (and some others) began the first overheating episode of the day. The lead car wisely paused on the south side of the river to allow the convoy to regroup before moving off for the next leg into Palmerston North. Meantime Chris Hince had got his 65 Notchback rolling again with some help from John Camm, who by now was convinced that he had pulled the very shortest straw to have been given this particular leg to be tail end Charley! Unfortunately the repair wasnt to last!

On southward went the convoy to the strangest episode of the day. As the cars approached the truck weigh station at Ohakea, a young officer walked out onto the highway and waved the convoy into the station. The lead car paused at the far end, and as there seemed to be no reason for the detour, then proceeded right back out again. Further back in the convoy the officer explained sheepishly to one of the car that he had been instructed by his "sergeant" to pull the convoy in as we were "holding up traffic". This was rich as the convoy was actually running late and the average speed was at least 100kph. The only effect of this piece of stupidity was that traffic was backed up behind the convoy as it slowed to turn in, and again as it pulled out! 

Poor Chris Hince had meanwhile finally given up on his 65, and without having even effectively been a part of the event, called in a tow truck. (For his efforts Chris was sent a Petrolhead gift pack to recognise the greatest effort to be part of the event with the least actual result!)

The Hince 65 was the saddest car of the day, with serious fuel blockages.

So after an incident filled morning, the convoy finally drove down Palmerston North's Rangitikei street and proceeded straight into a specially coned off parking area in the towns central square. Interestingly, several cars began overheating again coming into the square in heavy traffic as the strong tail wind was stopping the engine fans from moving enough air through the radiators while the cars were waiting in traffic.  So with the cars parked up and on display, and the rain holding off, the participants disbursed all over central Palmy in search of their favourite cafes for lunch.

(Pic of PN lineup??)

By 3 pm everyone had returned from lunch and was keen to get on their way to Masterton. However apart from the annoyance of the rain returning, another more significant problem had arisen - there was no way to get to Masterton! Because the Manawatu Gorge was still closed by massive slips from the flooding in March, the only alternative route was the infamous Pahiatua track. However during the morning  a truck had rolled on the track dumping its 40 ft container across the road effectively blocking it, and for good measure bringing down the distribution power lines as well! There was queue of cars almost back into Palmerston North.

The rain returnith!: Palmy (Pic Sandy Farrell)

After much discussion it was decided that the road must by now nearly be open because some cars at least were getting through. The convoy joined the queue but inevitably it was travelling at barely walking pace. The temperature in Wals Boss began to climb and he was left with a choice of a cooked engine or a trip around the long way via Wellington. In the end seven drivers chose to peel out of the queue and made the 3 hour detour in pouring rain down to Plimmerton, and over the Haywards Hill Road to Upper Hutt. They then had to navigate a river of muddy road works before climbing over the Rimutaka hill road to Featherston, and on up through the Wairarapa to Masterton, arriving between 7 and 7.30 pm. Those that stayed in the queue beat the Wellington cars into Masterton by approx 1 hour.  Seven drivers definitely earned their beer at the Copthorn hotel that night!!

Everyone was pretty tired so after a few bears and a chat, we proceeded straight into an excellent buffet meal. Unfortunately due to the road problems and the poor weather the numbers for the meal were well down on what was planned and much of the buffet was uneaten. The hotel were very good about it though. We all slept well that night and woke to a brilliantly fine morning! And so onto a brand new day!

Day 6