The Lady Michelle and I are in NZ for most of February, enjoying all the wonderful scenery, summery temperatures and endless Kiwi hospitality.
Tomorrow we set off with our hosts Mark and Suzanne Dunne and friend Rodney Clague for a 510 kilometer (300 mile) journey around the East Cape of the North Island. We're taking two vintage rides — the Dunn's '15 T Touring and Rodney's '27 Chevrolet roadster. NO support vehicles or other sissifications.
The '15 is all gassed up and ready to go. It's a right-hand drive unit of course, made in Canada as were almost all Commonwealth-destined Ts.
A bit of work was required to the timing linkage to ensure safe cranking (and this car starts first or second crank almost every time). Note the unusually long radiator top tank, apparently a feature of NZ Model Ts.
The car has a current "Warrant of Fitness" reflecting a positive safety inspection — WoFs need to be renewed every six months!! for older vehicles, every 12 months for moderns.
Our route takes us counter-clockwise from Gisborne, up to East Cape Lighthouse, the most easterly point in the world (next stop is the International Date Line), on to Opotiki where we hope to rediscover some vintage KisselKar bits, then back to home base in Gisborne.
Last photo is another Dunn T, the '24 Pickup they generously lent us last February to run the Three Rivers Rally out of Gisborne.
The radiator might have found it's way to NZ via Australia, known as the colonial radiator that was built for Australia's extreme out back weather conditions back in the teens. I wouldn't have thought it would be needed in NZ.
Thank you for sharing. It looks like fun, and warm, and sunny. Bill
Yes, the large radiators were sold in NZ too. maybe not the same heat, but lots and lots of steep hills here instead :-)
There is more than one way to boil a car it seems ;-)
I think the real reason was to stick to the pommie tradition of having a little bit of extra hot water for a cup a tea!
Day One: Gisborne to Te Puia Springs, 126 km (77 miles), average speed 45 km/h (27.4 mph). The '26 Chev was flawless, the '15 T nearly so with the only problem a loose LR wing (fender) bracket
I enjoyed an hour at the wheel of the Chev roadster — same age as my '26 T Touring but feels a more substantial car and probably a bit better on the hills, particularly since my T has no extra gearing. The Dunn's '15 T has a Ruckstel and did very well for itself.
Pretty sure we don't have signs like this in Canada...
Setting up for a picnic at Tolaga Bay, home to the longest wharf in the southern hemisphere at 660 m (2,164 ft). Built from 1925 to 1929, it served (particularly the wool trade) until 1966 and was recently restored at the cost of 5.5 million.
View from the end of the wharf — this gal was catching bait fish for her husband and #28 is on her hook. Hubby hadn't caught a thing. The wharf railway is 42" gauge, the NZ standard.
The Talaga Bay petrol station was closed Sunday — good thing we carried a couple spare tins. I believe there is also a kitchen sink or two in all that gear.
Interesting mix of vehicles at the petrol station: '15 Ford, '27 Chev, a big ol' Harley and the little green ELF in the corner. Petrol was $2.10NZ per litre (approx $5.80US/USgal).
ELF Electric trike is manufactured in North Carolina, imported into NZ, and retailing at $14,000NZ! The petrol station owner recently bought this rig secondhand for $6K. It's regarded as a bicycle, is equipped with lights, bell and turn signals, and has electric assist with supplemental battery charging from the roof-mounted solar collector. Cruising/top speed is 32-33 km/hr, range about one hour.
Our hostelry for the night, the Te Puia Springs hotel, established in 1918 and grand in the old tradition with high ceilings, broad staircase and a full-width front upper veranda. Very nice indeed.
Oh, that all looks So-o fun! Wonderful country also.
And KisselKar parts?
Hi Wayne -- the rumoured '15 KisselKar remains are on the agenda for Day Three.
Great pictures and story. I think it is funny that the petrol station owner has an electric car.
Fantastic photos - keep em coming!
Yes - please keep us updated. You are travelling in a very remote part of New Zealand that not many visit. It is beautiful.
Hopefully you're unaffected by the cyclone hitting some parts of NZ right now.
Wonderful. Thanks for sharing
Actually the longest wharf in New Zealand is NOT in Tolaga Bay but in Bluff, south of the South Island.
While the Tolaga Bay wharf is long, and it makes a good story, the 'Mainlanders' (slang for South Islanders) have the record:
In Australia, that port facility is called a Jetty. Our long one in South Australia is at Port Germien. It had to go out to deeper water so bagged wheat could be shipped overseas.
A wharf to us is along the shore, requiring deep water alongside.
English language is a challenge even to those who use it!
Allan from down under.
Allan, you forgot to cover a 'pier' as well :-)
Sorry Allan -
You simply cannot sign off as 'Allan from down under' when you are talking about water - deep water at that - because we may take 'down under' to mean that you are drowning and need to be rescued by the surf lifesaving club.
And we couldn't have that now, could we....
John, there was a time when even I could be encouraged to go into shark habitat for such a rescue, but that was long ago.
Day Two, Te Puia Springs to Te Kaha, 221 trouble-free kilometers. The internet connection at Te Kaha was NOT trouble-free however, so I didn't post that night and have shirked my duties since then. Until now, anyway.
It was a bit of Musical Chairs today as I took the wheel of the Dunn's '15 T for the afternoon and Michelle followed with Rodney in his '27 Chev. This was the first time I've driven a T with Ruckstell any distance and in the hills and my goodness, what an awesome improvement! Pretty much the whole day was up-down-beach-up-down-beach-up-down-beach-repeat as we followed the coastline up to East Cape and then west. Never needed Ford low on any climb, and rarely had to dab the brakes going back down.
We left the main road at Te Araroa for the 20 km side trip to the East Cape lighthouse. Met a very few vehicles but still found ourselves in a traffic jam.
Closer to the lighthouse, my favourite kind of T road... gravel, twisty, rugged and scenic.
The road ends here, East Cape Lighthouse is at the top of the hill — a 750 or 800 step climb depending which travel book you read.
Lady Michelle at the top. East Cape Lighthouse was on that rock (East Island) from 1900 to 1922, when it was decided to move the structure to the mainland after repeated earthquakes caused part of the island to crumble away. That must have been an interesting moving project — the lighthouse is 46' high and made up of cast iron sections. It has been fully automated since 1985.
Once you swim past that rock, the next land to the east is South America.
Rodney was last up the steps, entirely understandable at his 77 years of age — that he made it up and down with little trouble is likely thanks to a healthy lifestyle and never having smoked.
Our picnic lunch was just the other side of this Pohutokawa tree, estimated to be 350 years old and the largest of it's species worldwide at 21.2 M high and 40 m wide (70' x 131').
While I prefer my horses under the hood, this gal across the road from the big tree seemed worthy of a photo.
Day Three report tomorrow...
Which arch-rival will win the reliability challenge, Ford or Chevrolet??
Will we indeed trace down and re-discover some vintage 'teens KisselKar parts???
Thank you Adrian, Frank and others for your comments, corrections and embellishments.
Day Three: Te Kaha back home to Gisborne, 208 km today, total trip 555 km. Weather today ran the gamut from overcast to drizzle to heavy rain to brilliant sunshine.
Rodney fettles the '27 Chevrolet before we leave for the morning. This car has been in the family since his mother inherited it from the original owner, a family friend, in 1961. His mother also gave the car its first repaint a year or two later, using a vacumn cleaner spray-painting attachment. It was mechanically restored and painted again in 1969.
Our first stop was in Opotiki to see Mr Doug Wheeler, a rather eccentric collector of, primarily, early 20th century heavy commercial vehicles (and a smattering of nearly everything else!)
Rodney had visited Doug many years ago and seen parts of a 'teens KisselKar. As I own a 1912 model, this was of great interest to me and it was essential to follow up. Lo and behold, the KK bits were laying just and where they were years ago and after some greenery was trimmed back, the front half of the frame rails, steering box, front axles and springs were brought into sight.
The engine and tranmmission were in a nearby shed. This is a two-pot four-cylinder 40HP unit with, most likely, a three speed transmission.
Two 1914 KisselKar fire appliances were purchased new by a NZ fire department, Doug's remains are likely this 2-ton unit.
Typical of the other treasures at Chez Wheeler was this mid-teens Leyland commercial.
The Leyland worked hard down in the South Island, which gets cold enough in the winter to warrant draining the coolant at night.
I drove Mark's '15 T all day and enjoyed every mile. Key driving differences from our Canadian market Ts are of course the right-hand steering, but also the hand levers (throttle on left, spark on right) and offset of the pedals: all are to the left of the steering column.
And the great Chevrolet-Ford Reliability challenge?
Thanks to a lost fender bracket nut on Mark's T, the Chevy was in the lead until three miles from the finish when it quietly conked out on the roadside.
After towing the casualty to Mark's yard (behind a Ford, thank you very much) the problem was diagnosed to be a sunk float. A straightforward job to empty the float of petrol and solder the crack and the Chevrolet was motoring under its own steam once again.
Last photo... Besides the '15 and several T projects and a Model A or two, Mark also runs a '41 Ford V8 2-ton flatdeck. Here is Big Red delivering two pallets of oranges from their orchard for shipment to a juicer in Hamilton.
Wonderful Stuff! Thank you for sharing the adventure. (And the KisselKar pictures!)
Makes a guy want to travel, very nice. Dave in Bellingham,WA
Great photos and stories Chris! You're all obviously having a ball!
Please keep 'em coming!
IDK if you got an email because everything i send people goes straight to spam for them.
Good morning kep -- PM sent.
Thank you ever so much for taking us along for the ride. Seeing the warm sunny climes is a tonic for those of us stuck in the frozen wastes. Bill