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Day 9: Christchurch to Dunedin

  Tuesday 6th April:   

The morning dawned cold, wet and grey, but the rain was only light and came and went. Temperature was in the vicinity of 6 deg. Wal was up early as the TV 1 news crew had stated they would arrive at 6.30 am, and so they did. Protracted discussions with the crew resulted in Plan A (film under the hotel canopy out of the rain) abandoned because it was too dark, replaced with Plan B film out in the car park. Meanwhile Canterbury club cars were arriving to watch the event and boost car numbers for the TV cameras. 

By 7.45 am the crew had finally positioned the cars where they wanted them after several false starts, Erica Woods had sorted out what she wanted to say, and the shoot was ready to go live.  Fortunately the rain held off and the interview between Erica and Wal went live to air at 7.50 pm for 3 mins. Poor Erica was so cold in her light suit, that she was struggling to speak clearly without chattering!

Erica Woods from the TV 1 Breakfast Show interviews Wal Marshall about the Event.

With that little drama over, it was time to retreat inside to get warmed up, complete packing, check out, and do the morning briefing.  Meantime the drivers repositioned all the cars into two columns through the hotel entryway, ready for the final TV segment of the day at 9 am. With just minutes to go, all drivers positioned themselves in their cars, and fired up their engines ready to depart the hotel on a signal from the TV crew. The camera man and Erica Woods got into position under umbrellas as steady rain had set in again. Right on 9.00 am came the signal, and the two columns of cars drove out of the Garden hotel on both sides of the camera man, with action replayed live on TV1.

The route out of Christchurch using the SH1 bypass was fractured by numerous lights and roundabouts, not helped by the wet conditions, and some significant delays due to road-works. The convoy was broken into several pieces each of which had to make their own way to the south side of Christchurch. The cars paused to regroup at Hornby (the where it turned out that the tailenders who took other routes arrived first due to the long road-works delays on SH1 ). As the convoy proceeded south the rain eased off and several other cars joined up. The view along the Southern alps on the right hand side as we speed towards Ashburton was breathtaking with snow right down onto the edge of the plains. Into Ashburton the convoy rumbled, and onto Tinwald and the Plains Museum at the extreme south end of town. The weather was much improved by now, and while it wasnt sunny there was no rain, and little wind.

The convoy pauses for morning tea at the Plains Museum complex, Ashburton.

Since many people had not had breakfast yet the morning tea put on by the ladies at the museum complex was very welcome. It consisted of a good old fashioned spread of scones, cream, raspberry jam, homemade biscuits and heaps of sandwiches. There was not much left over!! The museum complex consists  of an historical village, vintage machinery, woodturning shop and restored railway complex, with an impressive fully restored 1900's steam locomotive with lots of brass and red detailing paint.

11.00 am arrived and it was time to head out for Timaru. The convoy had been given special permission to park in the Landing Services area in George Street right in the centre of town, which was excellent.  After a set of pictures and a story by the local press photographer were completed, it was off into the Main street to find a cosy spot for lunch. 

Cars parked in the Landing Services area in the Centre of Timaru.

1.00 pm and the cars departed on time for Oamaru. The original plan to park up at cafe 469 was abandoned in favour of a stop in the old section of Oamaru at the south end of the main street. This was a very interesting area, and has been nicely restored with many interesting shops and even small shopping malls built into the empty warehouses.

Park-up in Oamaru.

At 3.00 pm it was time to depart Oamaru for Dunedin. Local Mustang enthusiast ?? lead the convoy south in his blue Shelby GT350, and on a very interesting route down the coastal Beach Road, through Kakanui and back out onto SH1. From there it was SH1 into Dunedin. At the end of the Dunedin Northern motorway we had been prewarned by local event organiser John Noble, that a press photographer would be waiting to snap the convoy as it passed under the last bridge. Wal was lead car so he slowed the convoy to bunch it up, and a great picture was subsequently published in the ODT next morning. (Waikato Times version)

The convoy rolls down the Motorway into Dunedin (Pic ODT)

John Noble meet the cars at the end of the Motorway, and after persuasion from Wal lead the convoy down into Dunedin through the one way subsystem, and out to the Shoreline Hotel in South Dunedin.  The cars were hardly parked up for the night, when a tremendous hail storm passed over Dunedin and left the whole city in white out. Most cars had an inch or so of hail left on them, but fortunately the hail stones were small so no damage was caused to the cars.

A few drinks in the hotel bar followed, then everyone sat down to a buffet meal in the restaurant.  At 7.30 pm most participants gathered again in the hotel lobby for a visit to see the famous PDL1 Mustang. A mini bus was already arranged by John Noble and off to Steve Ross's house we went in the light rain. What a visual feast awaited! Steve's basement is everyman's dream garage with not only PDL1 but also a Hertz Shelby, two other race cars, and an assortment of engines, racing equipment and posters pictures etc etc. Also present was Roy McDonald, who has undertaken much of the recent engineering work on PDL1 and was able to explain in detail the engineering challenges which need to be faced and overcome before the car can come back to competitive classic racing.

PDL1 in its current restored and immaculate condition

Steve's Hertz Shelby, and his two other racing cars, the ? and the "Gotina".

Steve Ross went to considerable trouble to host the visit, and the grateful thanks of all who came that night were passed to him. (A formal letter of thanks from the event has been sent to him as further thanks. Wal).

After an hour and a half chatting to Steve and Roy we reluctantly we called a taxi bus, headed back to hotel, and into bed for a well earned rest. It had been another long day.

Day 10