Day 8: Nelson to Christchurch
Monday 5th April
Yes!! Another fine day dawned! Briefing was held-over till all the cars could all assemble at Wakefield. So at 8.45am the motel was awoken as the cars rumbled out and headed for Wakefield, about 20 mins away. On arrival at Wakefield there were already another half dozen cars waiting for us, making for a convoy of 11 cars.
Wal gathered everyone up into a sunny spot on the roadside for the usual morning briefing. Lights on in Convoy, off if pulling out, route and stop points, need to keep to schedule, weather outlook, clothing sales etc.
Briefing completed, all questions answered and domestic details sorted, the cars moved off with the Rinaldo's red Shelby GT350 leading the convoy and headed for Murchison. After a very pleasant 1 hr cruise we arrived at the Gowan bridge turnoff, where the convoy paused for pictures.
With pictures taken, the convoy drove on another 15 mins to reach the large Beechwoods Cafe, at the southern exit to Murchison, and parked-up with the cars lined-up on the grass behind the cafe. To our surprise we were able to welcome another car from Greymouth (Colin Skeats?). The weather remained excellent, and much discussion ensued.
A very hungry and thirsty bunch of Mustangers then descended on the excellent Beechwood's cafe and tucked into their excellent muffins, scones and coffee's.
With thirst and hunger well quenched, we ambled out into the sunshine for a group photo including our friend from Greymouth. Then it was back into the cars to depart for Hanmer. Its was at this point that Wal had a near miss in his Boss 429. During the lunch break he noticed a seeping fuel hose near the carburettor, and (over) tightened a hose clip to fix it. As he pulled out onto the highway at Murchison, Sandy Farrell (riding with Wal) commented on the strong fuel smell in the car. Wal pulled over to check and with the engine still running looked under the hood to find fuel spraying all over the engine bay! Fortunately the motor was stopped before the whole engine bay burst into flames! Three mins with a sharp knife and a screwdriver was all that was needed to effect a repair and the convoy was on its way once again.
The easy cruise to Springs Junction through pristine West coast farmland, forest, and clear sparkling mountain rivers was most enjoyable. At Springs junction most cars took the opportunity to refuel, and other group photo was taken.
With all the stops for pictures, the event was now running behind well behind schedule, so without any more ado off to Hanmer we went. The drive over the Lewis Pass in warm sunny conditions was fantastic, with the forest and mountains pressing in on all sides. Soon we were comfortably cruising down the Waiau River, the sun still shining brightly, and the scenery an endless panorama before us.
Then it was a sharp turn left, over the Hanmer bridge and just a few km into Hanmer Springs. As we were an hour late arriving at 3 pm, the welcoming party of locals must have given up on us, however we still found an excellent spot to park the cars at the south end of the main street.
Because of the late arrival into Hanmer, the proposed swim in the hot pools was abandoned in favour of a 30 min coffee break, and a stroll around the town centre. By 3.45 pm Wal had rounded everyone up and we were off on the last leg of the day to Christchurch. This drive was incident free except for muddy road-works near Amberley, the start of drizzling rain, and the usual peak hour traffic congestion as we drove down Marshlands Road. Several local cars peeled off to find local abodes or to stay the night with friends and relatives, which left just half a dozen cars to check into the Garden Hotel.