Tour of New Zealand Monday 23 rd Jan. The next morning we were up early as we needed to collect the Lagonda from the storage depot. I was slightly apprehensive that the car might not start but this turned out to be totally unfounded as it started without any issues. Buildings devastated by the quake. On the day before the tour started we were very kindly picked up from our hotel by Kevin Atkinson, who is doing a magnificent job rebuilding a MK 1 18/80 RX 7207 he acquired from Irvine Black. Kevin drove us to his house where we meet his wife Julia and their collection of dogs. Kevin showed me around his collection of vintage cars and I was extremely impressed by the amazing work he is doing on resurrecting the 18/80 from the pile of parts he purchased. Kevin Atkinson’s M.G. 18/80 begins to take shape. Later after a coffee we left Hazel & Julia and Kevin kindly drove me to visit Irvine Black and see his emporium of vintage and classic cars. Irvine is making steady but slow progress with his 18/80 rebuild. We had a lovely lunch with Irvine and his wife prior to moving on to see Peter Lyttle’s 18/80 rebuild. Sadly Peter was not available but he had given Irvine a key to his garage so I could see his collection of cars and horse drawn carriages. Peter’s 18/80 is much further advanced than Irvine’s car and the quality of the workmanship is very high. Kevin and Peter should be proud of their achievements and hopefully we will soon hear they have completed their rebuilds and the cars are back on the road. Kevin drove me back to his house where we had an evening meal before he kindly dropped us back to our hotel after a really amazing day. This was the first time Hazel had seen the Lagonda, apart from pictures, and I hoped she would be happy travelling in a vintage car as she had never done so before. Again everything turned out fine, she climbed aboard, and we set off to drive the short distance to our new hotel and the start of the tour. On arrival there were already a number of other people there. We booked into our room and shortly afterwards set about cleaning the WD 40 off the Lagonda. Prior to shipment I was advised to spray WD 40 over all the aluminium and nickel parts of the car to prevent the salt from the sea spray attacking the surfaces. It worked well but took some effort to clean it off. Later that evening we met up with all the other entrants at the “Welcome Dinner”. The organisers had been very thoughtful and provided very good name tags for the entrants to wear which helped me a great deal as I am hopeless at remembering people’s names. Tuesday 24 th Jan. We went on a 120 miles “shakedown” run to a large sea inlet at Akaroa on the east coast. The route took us over some very mountainous and deserted roads which provided stunning views especially as the weather was warm and sunny with a lovely blue sky.
Tour of New Zealand Wednesday 25 th Jan. We had a free day and went back towards Akaroa to collect a poncho Hazel had accidentally left at a coffee stop the previous day. That evening we attended a BBQ organised by Bentley enthusiast Gavin Bain who lives at Governors Bay. Gavin has an amazing collection of vintage cars garaged in a beautiful setting. BBQ time. temperatures). We also ventured into the steam/sauna facilities. We went to bed at 22.00 tonight but had to get up again at midnight to walk into the town and catch a small bus which took us to the local sky observatory where we spent 90 minutes “star gazing”. The night sky was clear with lots to see including the “Milky Way” which was stunning. Back to bed at 3.00am Saturday 28 th Jan. Off to Dunedin today. The 217 mile drive was an extraordinary series of contrasting spectacular scenery. Lake Tepako was bright blue and crystal clear. We drove past the long lakes and canals of the hydroelectric power system. We stopped at Omarama for a break and then continued on to Dunedin. There were some very long, steep hills and bendy roads on this section but we overcame them without issue. Sunday 29 th Jan. An early start as a bus picked us up at 7.50 to takes us to the port for a Wildlife cruise. This took most of the day. We saw several albatross flying with their huge wingspan majestically soaring over the sea. Later that evening we were taken by coach to “Larnach Castle” where we had a formal evening meal. The castle is a mock copy of a Scottish castle and is the only castle in New Zealand. The Tour Group. Thursday 26 th Jan. Today was the first long trip of the tour with a 190 mile drive from Christchurch to Tekapo. We drove through the Canterbury plains in brilliant sunshine and no traffic before turning inland to cross the beautiful Mckenzie basin before arriving in Tekapo. The views of a glistening Mount Cook in the distance made it a perfect day. Larnach Castle Monday 30 th Jan. In the morning we visited the “Toitu Otago Settlers” museum containing many historical and interesting exhibits. In the afternoon we went for a ride on the “Taieri Gorge” railway. The train leaves Dunedin's beautiful railway station and travels through the southern parts of Dunedin city until it arrives at Wingatui junction where it turns off onto the Taieri branch with stunning scenery everywhere. Tepako Lake & Mount Cook. Friday 27 th Jan. Today was a relaxing day and we walked to the “Tekapo Springs” where we bathed in the 5 heated outdoor pools (all at predetermined different