Monday, 27 October 2008

Southern Express

It has been a huge relief getting the Land Rover through the entry compliance inspection and on the road in New Zealand. It was almost eight weeks since the initial inspection when we took it back for the successful retest. Most of that time I spent working on the vehicle to bring it to the required standard for the certification we needed, although there were times when we wondered if we were actually going to be able to get it through. We had a lot of help though, especially from Terry of Heritage Mechanical Services, without whose expert knowledge, calm guidance and the use of his workshop the whole job would have been substantially more difficult.

After passing the retest we were issued with a warrant of fitness, and we were able to register the vehicle with new NZ number plates and pay road user charges then and there. Following this, we could legally drive the vehicle away from the testing station and home. It was great to be back driving the Camel again, and it meant we could finally get on with the rest of our trip south.

The following day we repacked the vehicle with our expedition equipment, as we had emptied it out completely after clearing the MAF bio-security inspection back in August. We had taken over a spare room in Mum and Dad’s house with all our gear, so it was good to be able to give them some space back. Catkin also took the opportunity to give our canvas seat covers a wash, as she had been itching to do this for quite a while.

Now that the vehicle was fully imported we needed the New Zealand Customs Service to complete the ‘Certificate of Location’ page of our Carnet in order for us to send our documentation back to the ADAC in Munich for the refund of our deposit. We had to go in to the main Customs house in the middle of Auckland to do this, and although it seemed like it was rather an unusual request, we managed to convince them that we were not doing anything illegal and the form was duly filled out. We have now sent the forms back to Germany and are eagerly anticipating the return of our funds.

On the way into town we stopped off at a number of trailer manufacturing companies. We have been planning to buy a trailer, and seeing as I still had quite a bit stored at my parents’ place we decided we might as well get one now and take everything with us. We narrowed it down to one that seemed well constructed and at a reasonable price and put a deposit down for collection the following Tuesday.

Now that we had freedom to roam we were quite keen to get heading south as soon as we could. We had initially planned to be in Queenstown by early October, so were basically a month behind schedule. We were now aiming to get away on the Thursday of the coming week, so spent the weekend visiting friends and relatives before our imminent departure.

Just as a little something different, we had been invited to take part in a group test of a range of small four-wheel-drive vehicles for a New Zealand 4WD magazine. This was being organised by Ashley, who is the owner of the only other original Camel Trophy Land Rover in New Zealand. We had been in contact with Ashley for a number of months before arriving in New Zealand and had seen him quite a few times since while working on the vehicle. We spent the day in rural South Auckland test driving each vehicle both on and off road, making notes about the characteristics of each and comparing each one to the others. It was a great day, and our lunch spot at the top of the hill had a fantastic view.

Ashley came up to Warkworth the following day to get a few photos of the two Camel Trophy vehicles together. This would be his last chance for a while before we departed the following day. Ashley’s vehicle was owned by Land Rover Experience before he bought it and has the panel damage to prove it. It also gave us the chance to park the two side by side and compare war stories.

Due to the length of our impending journey and the likelihood of bad weather enroute, we decided that our new trailer needed a plywood box to protect the contents, so a good portion of our last day before departure was spent constructing that.

Departure day arrived, and I still had stuff everywhere. Our tentative time of departure of 1pm came and went and we still had loads to do. Space inside the trailer seemed to be disappearing very quickly, but by 2:30pm we finally had everything packed and were ready to roll. It was raining by now, so we were glad to have everything under cover.

Queenstown, here we come. We stopped the first night at my cousin’s farm just north of Matamata, and the second night with friends near Otaki. We are now in Wellington at Andrew and Jen’s place, getting to know our new nephew, and spent yesterday sorting through some of the many boxes they have been storing for us for nearly two years. We have managed to fit even more into the trailer, but all the remaining boxes will need to be transported south once we are set up down there. We have caught up with a couple of friends in Wellington also.

We have another night here, and cross Cook Strait tomorrow, bound for Christchurch, where I know two of my sisters can’t wait to see Catkin and ‘the bump.’ Yes, for those who don’t know, Catkin’s pregnant, so even more reason to get to the end of our journey and start behaving like responsible adults.


Nathan and Kirstina said...

Hi Guys
Welcome south, hope you'll have time to catch up before heading off. our ph no's hm 960 6860 wk 377 2020 cell 021 0232 3333(nath) 021 0291 2891 (me)
Hope to see you soon

Dad and Sue said...

Gosh, the Camel gleams! And Catkin - love that bump girl - you are the screensaver once again xx