Vintage cars cross the Clutha River


A classic car enthusiast’s dream greeted Clutha Valley residents last Thursday when many encountered a convoy of classic vehicles parked on the side of the road to Beaumont.
 ‘. . .it’s really all about the challenges and the adventure. , 

Waiting . . .Mustangs , Escorts, Fairlanes, Mercs, they were all there waiting their turn. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

There were some Jaguars and a pair of Bentleys, Porsches and Mercs, a few Mustangs, a couple of Escorts and even a Volvo in the queue, their well-heeled owners standing around talking of adventures past and present, waiting to board the 100-year-old Tuapeka Punt.     Enjoying locally made fresh coffee and chocolate muffins, New Zealand Classic Rally participants waited to take their turn aboard the historic punt as they continued on day 20 of their 23-day drive around New Zealand.
Cool 8degC weather made leaving Invercargill early in the morning in the open-top sports cars a chilly challenge, but the 24-strong convoy wound its way through the back roads of the Catlins before emerging at Clydevale for the bonus stage of the day: a rare punt ride.
The classic rally is for touring cars made before 1985 and is one of many the organisers, the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation (Hero), runs around the world, including the well-known Peking to Paris event.
Participants from the UK, the US, Canada, Egypt, Germany and Ukraine had shipped their cars out by container back in November; they then flew to New Zealand to drive more than 7000km.
The event was spread over 20 ‘‘travelling’’ days and also included 3 ‘‘non-travelling’’ days.
Hero senior event manager George Mullins, of England, said the event had started in Auckland with 33 cars on February 15, and had driven around both islands.
‘‘It’s been great, we have only had two days of rain the whole trip.
‘‘The participants are a mixed bunch of really decent people and they have come to New Zealand to take part in a classic regulatory rally rather than a Targa style rally.’’
Each day the convoy drove between two locations using highways and gravel roads; along the way there were four special stages where participants were timed from the start to the finish.
‘‘They nominate a time and if they are under or over they are penalised. Every car is different, nobody speeds and everybody has a lot of fun. It’s really all about the challenges and the adventure,’’ Mr Mullins said.
After Tuapeka Mouth the rally continued on via Lawrence and Waipori to Dunedin for a rest day, before heading up through Central Otago to finish in Christchurch on Sunday.