AUCK­LAND–WELLING­TON ROUTE RE­VIVED

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature -

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.

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