Whangarei Weekend

From Auckland: Greg Winkley, Brent Druskovich, Don and Wynne Howarth.
From Northland: Anne and Ray Cotterill, Neale and Michelle Batchelor, Steve and Jenny Cornwall, Peter Vuletich and Oksana, Robert Morgan and Bronwyn, Mary Pullman.

On what the weather forecast to be a wet weekend (but turned out to be beautiful) Don and I left home about 9.30am to meet Greg at the Kaukapakapa Tavern at 10.30am. We were the only ones meeting him there, so got our instructions and left on the first touring stage. We made a stop at the Gibb’s Farm gate – we could see only one sculpture as the gate was locked – then headed on to West Coast Rd. From here we did a “Targa” stage to Kaipara Flats Rd, round large (though some tight) sweeping corners past very green paddocks with some lovely rural views. We arrived at Kaipara Flats Rd, but with my stomach protesting at the curves, made the decision to join Highway One here, and proceed to Kaiwaka. This left Greg – who had done all the plotting- to continue on the course by himself. He said he enjoyed driving the back roads, so we left him to it.
To the Brynderwyns through the roadworks (where we had been warned to watch our speed as cops and cameras were active) to Kaiwaka where we met up with the Whangarei contingent for lunch at the Bakery, then on through 3 more touring and Targa-type stages (which included driving down Dr’s Hill Rd ) to end up at
Maungatapere for our tour of the Packard and Pioneer Museum. At this point Robert Morgan joined the group, and proudly showed off his very recently purchased new RCZ Type R coupe, a very impressive and much admired car. Don, for one, was green with envy!
This museum is fascinating, with a large number of Packard models – I understand this is the largest collection outside the USA – but also a big collection of motorbikes, scooters, memorabilia, 47 potato mashers!!!,WW2 trucks, jeeps, and army motorbikes including the mini Flying Flea as well as old earthmoving equipment. Many of the exhibits have been restored, and many are still waiting….
We left from here to go to our motels for a rest and a brush up, then met again at Mary Pullman’s house for her 70th birthday party, with a specialty of toheroa fritters, gathered the day before in bitterly cold and windy conditions! This was a family and car club gathering with a BBQ and pot luck meal, so was a friendly and social event.
Next morning was a double stage of a Targa rally route, run locally, but Don and I decided to miss this and went instead to the yacht basin in the middle of Whangarei and browsed those craft shops. I found a birthday and a Christmas gift, so was very pleased.
Then on to the Batchelor’s home where we met up with the rest of the group for a pleasant home-cooked morning tea and chat, and the men admired Neale’s extensive model collection.
Next we set off towards Whangarei Heads, going through one touring
stage, then drove over Mt Tiger
(interesting) ending up at the Parua Bay Tavern for a surprise birthday lunch for Mary. This was organised by family and friends, who had booked the top floor room, which on a sunny day would have had a spectacular view of the bay, but was still pleasant even though grey and windy. We had a lovely meal, lots of talk with different people, (Mary was delighted when she was delivered by her son), and we finally left for home about 4pm, deciding to miss the trip to see Peter Vuletich’s collection!
Altogether a very pleasant and good friendship weekend, although it was a shame there was such a small response from the Auckland members. Greg put in a lot of work on planning the driving stages of the rally and had written excellent notes. Using our cars in out of town situations is one of the perks of coming on a weekend like this, and the men did enjoy putting the foot down when they had the chance!
I am sure Mary Pullman will remember this birthday for quite a while.

Wynne Howarth

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