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Letters from New Zealand (Part 3)

Philip and Yvonne Haslam are long time Twyford Moors customers having had their XK120 restored by us over ten years ago. Since then they have taken their trusty Jaguar on many trips around the world. Here's an update from their latest journey to New Zealand.

Jaguar XK120 with Chevi tow truck"North island behind us, we ferried back across the Cook Straits to South Island,  in perfect weather. Can I say at this juncture  that whilst everyone has told us that NZ  has had its worst summer in living memory,  we seem to have dropped on. At the time of writing this, we have had 22 days, and the roof has been up for a max of 2 hours ! Wherever  we've been,  the sun has shone  - something to do with the righteous I believe ?

Now, we've had a minor issue with the XK over the last few days, where the starter has, intermittently,  struggled  to turn the engine over. Being of limited (non) skills,  I decided to turn to the experts. Expert 1 checked the brushes and found a loose battery connection,  and after 10 $ changed hands,  we were on our way. 

Just the same.

Expert 2 assured me that it was a faulty regulator in the alternator and sent us 45  miles out of our way to find a new one. Just 85$ overcame this solution.

Just the same.

Expert 3 guaranteed that the battery was suffering.  However, when he removed it and checked it, it was deemed okay. So, he expertly cleaned the terminals,  and expertly  assured that my travails were over. Heartwarmingly,  he would take no money, but, after a moments hesitation,  decided that a dozen bottles of Krona beer might be appropriate recompense. 

Just the same.

So, here we are, 95$ and 12 beers later, wondering which we will run out of first, experts or funds. Watch this space.

Tourning in New ZealandSo, where was I  ?  -  Oh yes, South Island. Turn west out of Picton and you will find yourselves,  as did we, on Queen Charlotte Drive, on yet another of NZ best drives. The road rolls up and down mountain sides, whilst constantly providing unrivalled  views of turquoise bays. On drives like this you constantly cross your fingers that it will never end. We found one of the finest picnic spots (see photo with seat ). It occurs to me that I ought to write a book about best picnic spots, coastal drives and coffee shops. Trouble is, I fear that I would run out of superlatives by page 5 . 

As you may be aware, I will not allow myself to use the word ' awsum '. Yet again I came across yet another gross miss use of the word, when today, after reporting a toilet pan that had become dangerously loose and needed fixing, was told " thanks, awesome " !!

Staying over in Nelson, we drove up NW to Farewell Spit  ( another 'most northern ' point, this time not sullied by someone claiming otherwise  ). Sadly,  the day before, over 600 whales had beached on the incoming tide. Tasman Bay in this area is very shallow up to 4 km out, and this huge pod had become stranded. Despite a gigantic  effort by locals and tourists, who were dowsing them with water and attempting  to drag them into the incoming tide, more than 330 died.

Tourning an XK120 in New ZealandNeeding a moment of levity to lift our mood, we were presented with just what we needed on the outskirts of Motueka, where we saw a company named ' Simplicity Funeral Directors ' - slogan :- ' We just dig a hole, and chuck 'em in '. ( well, that was ours !). Followed by a sign just a km further on offering ' Asparagus and Horse Poo,  2$ '.

On South island,  south really means south  -  so we did, heading for the west coast, which has so many plaudits in the guide books. And why not ? It has lived up to, nay, well exceeded  all expectations.  The coastal drive from West port to Greymouth was so spectacular that I have decided that I'm going to have to recalibrate  my ratings. I'm reaching a point near to overload.

As a contrast  to the  smooth polished azure seas of the Pacific east coast,  here, the Tasman Sea  stuns our senses, with gigantic  pounding waves crashing on to evermore precarious rock structures.  No more so than at Punakaiki, where the heavily stratified rocks, which are layered weathering of limestone, called ' styrobedding' , are pierced with caverns through which the sea  blasts upwards through blow holes - a reminder that Mother Nature really is the boss !

So far, we've walked perilous swing bridges, sneered at seal's attempts at rock climbing,  steam boated across lakes, jet boated the Shotover Canyons ( a quite sense numbing trip everyone should do ), avoided bungee jumps and zip wires, been fascinated by Kiwis use of corrugated iron panels as fencing around bijou homes, and wondered at the fact that NZ  has the best weeds of any country we've visited. Orange lilies contrast with blue and white, football ( have i mentioned Sheff. United being top of League 1 ?) sized agapanthas, vivid yellow hibiscus, purple lupins, multicoloured sweet peas and verges full of wild hydrangea.  Perhaps  'weeds' is a bit strong, but these plants just grow in wild profusion everywhere. 

Jaguar XK120 on tourAs ever, when travelling in the XK,  one of the bonuses is that you are constantly assailed by people who want to know about the car, and what we're doing. It really enhances the trip enormously , as we meet so many fascinating folk, all of whom have their own stories to tell. So far on this trip, the cross section is broad to say the least, a flight simulator instructor , a possum fir buyer, a chap who washes the outsides of police stations, a fish measurer, the inevitable sheep shearer, 2 members of the Cheshire Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, a casino operator from India, a master baker ( carefully how you say this one ), and 2 Master BBQ  judges from Wisconsin, and umpteen people who have seen us on the road, over the last 3 weeks. This has become a travelling group of friends,  re-aquainting, day by day.

So, how's the car now, I hear you cry.

Well, slowly but surely,  the starting procedure has deteriorated. We have never been in danger of not starting, but I was aware that it was never going to improve. So, in Queenstown,  enter Expert no. 4.

And, at long last, we found a real expert. Logan took one look under the bonnet, and, with a suspiciously complex piece of equipment declared " yer battery's  f-----d  mate ".So, within 10 mins, and with a wallet wrenching 365$, we were back flying.Whilst it seemed momentarily expensive, compared to the 95$ and umpteen beers of a week ago, all of a sudden, it felt good value.

Phillip and ( not missed a turn yet ) Yvonne.

PS. I've not mastered the art of captioning photos, so  :-

1.  Chevy tow truck, Whangerui.

2.  Y in paradise. 

3.  Some of our accommodation hasn't been quite up to scratch.

4.  Astounding rock formation at Punakaiki.

5.  1000's of bras in support of a breast cancer fund."

Jaguar XK120 with bras in support of a breast cancer fund

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