Posted on Apr 10, 2017

Bangers to Bluff Alzheimers Fundraiser
29th March – 9th April 2017


At 9.30am Wednesday morning, 29th March, in wet unpleasant conditions, Miss Auckland, Michelle Isemonger sounded her battery blow horn, President Peter dropped the clutch & the Mazda Green Goddess began her journey from Buckland Beach Yatch Club in Half Moon Bay on the Bangers to Bluff Charity Fundraiser rally.

Day 1: Half Moon Bay to Rotorua 300km

“Bangers” Brian Kelly aka “BK” of Coast Radio joined the group & was live with the fleet to Rotorua. He will do live “cross overs” from his studio during his Coast Radio morning show to get an update on the Bangers progress. Coast Radio has a reach of over 250,000 listeners. The event will also be covered in the NZ Herald’s “Driven” section. Also Carjam will be covering the Rally across their 200,000 database and both Alzheimer’s NZ and Hopework’s Brain Injury Foundation will be promoted. A mighty big THANK YOU once again to the generous sponsors.

As you can see from these latest photos sponsors signage now populates the car so it does look good.

Day 2: Rotorua To Hastings 325km

Off to a good start from Rotorua this morning with no rain. Four cars including us decided the scheduled route was a bit boring so headed off to Murapara for breakfast then off to Lake Waikaremoana. Great scenery, rough roads. Headed from there down to Wairoa where Malcolm met a primary school friend in the pup. Ray ended up driving another car as the driver took sick and headed back to Auckland. Good run from Wairoa to Hastings. Brenda ' car blew 4 tyres. Off for dinner as a group.

Day 3 Hastings To Wellington 385km

Another great day on the road. Bit of drama this morning when car keys nowhere to be seen. Turned the motel upside down several times, unpacked and repacked our bags. Even called in the ladies to have a girls look for them. Finally found keys lodged in the wheel of Malcolm's suit case. Might have to shout drinks tonight. Drove over Gentle Annie road today which was great. Rally driver Peter had it nailed when passing trucks and tractors. Ray driving the Laser was left in the dust again. Had barbecue in Fielding for lunch put on by Fruehauf one of the major sponsors. Called into Manfield racetrack to watch some racing practice. Arrived in Seaview late afternoon for night. Caught up with Del. Off to club for dinner tonight then Peter and Malcolm fly home tomorrow. Over to Del to update you all from now on.

Day 4/5 Wellington, Picton and Nelson 175km

Arrived in Wellington PM Friday 31st March and waited the arrival of Team Piton Broke at the Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park in Lower Hutt. Eventually the “Pakuraanga Lads” as they had become affectionally known piloted arrival of the “Green Goddess” in all her festooned majesty after a day of lost keys drama into the park. Serious signs were apparent of rallying on the less travelled backcountry North Island gravel roads. The Mazda had travelled well but now covered in dirt & road grime with some minor panel damage and front bumper out of alignment.

Next morning Saturday 1st, April Fool’s Day, lined up to take the ferry to Picton on the 1.30pm sailing. Yeah Right!!! Departure was 2 hours late & instead of a 3 hour crossing it took 4 hours, disembarking at Picton at 7pm & ar-rived 9.30pm at the Nelson Tahuna Kiwi Holiday Park. Note for the future avoid Bluebridge & take the more reliable InterIslander.

Sunday 2nd April is a scheduled Rest/Recovery Day. Relief driver David Wardell is sched-uled to arrive late this arvo. Then in the morning the next leg is to Greymouth. David doesn’t know it yet he’ll be driving another Banger. More on that in tomorrow’s report from David. In the meantime today instead of resting I’ll drive over the challenging steep & winding Takaka Hill to lunch at Pohara Beach with an old school mate who was our Groomsman at our wedding 50 years ago this coming Saturday.

This car is a 5 speed manual and it took an estimated 500 gear shifts to get over the Takaka Hill and back to Nelson via the Kaiteriteri Beach.

At the top of the Takaka Hill

Day 6: Nelson to Greymouth via St Arnaud, Murchison And Inangahua 355km

I was set down as co-driver with Del, in our Mazda 626, to drive two legs of the rally: Monday, Nelson to Greymouth, overnight there, and then on the Tuesday, Greymouth to Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass. However, after flying into Nelson on the Sunday evening I was asked to take over driving a clapped out, 280,000 km, Ford Laser. The driver had taken ill and had had to return to Auckland along with his partner. The little 1600cc Laser went like a rocket; it’s only problem was it didn’t stop very well! So,the gears got a good work out, changing down all the time to slow up.Our first stop on the Monday morning after our superb Aussie BBQ breakfast, was Lake Rotoiti. Bitterly cold wind. The clue as to what we had to find there was: ‘something slippery’. Large eels was the answer. They had all the tourists going photo mad!

It was then on to Inangahua, with innumerable stops for road works. With the coastal road out of action, traffic was heavy and the road was never designed for so many trucks.The Jag in the rally burnt everyone off until bits started falling off it and ‘duck’ tape had to come into play.The Aussie contingent – driving their old Merc 190D were also lead footed. They were from Newcastle – Judy’s hometown and where we were married – so we had something in common.

At Punakaiki we all rendezvoused at 3pm – high tide – to watch the blow holes roar. And roar they did; the best I’ve ever seen them. Then it was off to Greymouth – top up the Laser with oil and petrol ready for the morrow.

That night we all ate out at the local restaurant – sharing and exaggerating stories from the day. Next morning I was charged with awarding the ‘Misdemeanour Paddle’ to someone from the previous day’s drive who had been caught out. My task was made easy, because the ‘Pink Ladies’ (Brenda and Irena from Half Moon Bay Club) – driving their BMW525 had been spied by me slip-ping through a red light just as it changed so as to get onto a one lane bridge and avoid having to wait. Some embellishment of the story caused a few chuckles among the group.

Lunch at Arthurs Pass, and then across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch, completed my section of the rally. I had a really good time, it was a great group, well organised and was for a good cause. I’d recommend next year’s one to all.

It should be reported there was another lost keys drama this morning before leaving Greymouth. The support vehicle in panic mode this time, Eventually found, Thankfully they were handed into reception. BBQ in Christchurch tonight courtesy of Fruehauf the B2B major sponsors. Onto Wanaka tomorrow – big day in prospect.

Day 7/8: Christchurch To Wanaka 414km

Relief driver Dawn (she managed the manual no problem) joined me for the remainder of the rally to Bluff.Departed early in heavy rain petering out at Dunsandel. Fine the rest of the day with no signs of the adverse weather catching us up. Coffee break at Ger-aldine, lunch at Twizel, then over the Lindis Pass, Photo opportunity at top of the pass in freezing cold conditions.

On the road into Wanaka found the Aussie’s in their showoff Mercedes having a “Carona Boot Party” on the side of the road.

Discovered the Madza had blown a head light. Fortunately found a replacement bulb in Wanaka & $19.95 later all was fixed. Thursday 6th was a scheduled rest & recovery day but turned out anything but beginning with Eggs Benedict for Brekki at Warbirds Wanaka, followed by a Seafood Chowder for lunch at the Cardrona Hotel, Devonshire Tea & Scones at the Edgewater Resort, finishing with a BBQ in magnificent surroundings breathing fresh, brisk pristine alpine air. Al in all a TOUGH DAY

Day 8 Question of the day? Which Banger lady/ladies left their bra/s on the fence at “Bradrona” and made a donation to Breast Cancer?

Day 9 Wanaka to Dunedin 310km

After a clear night,sky of stars with the spectacular Southern Cross standing out woke to cloudless sapphire blue skies but the ground & cars covered in the season’s first heavy frost. It was a magical drive following the Clutha River through cental Otago’s bril-liant pallet of Autumn colours. Is there anywhere better in the world. No wonder the tourists flock here. Dawn and Del celebration drinks and fine dining dinner tonight at No7 Balmac (google it) marking our 50 years married tomorrow April 8th.

Day 10 Dunedin to Bluff via The Catlins 305km

Another cool frosty southern morning. The “Pink Ladies” discovered their showoff BMW had been wrapped in clear plastic pallet wrap in the early morning hours. Team Aussie had struck again, Rendezvous of all cars/drivers in Balclutha at 10am for final briefing & presentation of the dreaded Paddle Award. This time bestowed on Team Mystery.

Followed the Catlins coast road to Stanley Point, Bluff with all Bangers arriving at 4pm for final team/car photos with that iconic sign in the background. Team Dinner/Awards held at The Cabbage Tree Restaurant, Otatara. The group had arranged for a cake recognising Dawn & Del’s 50th wedding anniversary, to the very day. A big surprise making for a memorable occasion. Charity Auction of all bangers tomorrow.