AUCKLAND–WELLINGTON ROUTE REVIVED
For close to 100 years the prospect of racing from Auckland to Wellington in record time has tempted keen drivers. This year, the organizers of the annual Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally gave entrants the chance to do it within the law. After celebrating its 20th anniversary with a one-off Christchurch to Queenstown event in 2014, then starting in Auckland but finishing in Palmerston North in 2015, and starting in Taupo and finishing in Havelock North last year, the 23rd annual Targa NZ event this year started at Hampton Downs, just south of Auckland, on Tuesday October 24, and finished at Taranaki Wharf in Wellington on Saturday October 28. In between were 739km of closed special stages and almost 1200km of open-road touring, with overnight stops in Hamilton (two), New Plymouth, and Palmerston North. Coincidentally, by heading south into the Waikato then west to Taranaki before the run south again to Wellington, this year’s event covered the same sort of ground the likes of pioneering Aucklandto-wellington record-setters Phil Seabrook and riding mechanic Bill Hinton did almost a century ago. On April 6, 1923, the pair successfully completed their own 700kmplus journey in 14 hours and 58 seconds, breaking the existing record by over 20 minutes, and beating the time the nightly express train took down the considerably shorter main trunk railway line, by over three hours.