With his Suzuki Samu­rai, ‘Lit­tle Whale,’ A-framed be­hind the trusty Pa­trol, Mur­ray Tay­lor headed to Reefton over the Easter week­end for this year’s Zuk­fest.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story by Mur­ray Tay­lor Pho­tos by MT and An­drea Parker

With his Suzuki Samu­rai, ‘Lit­tle Whale,’ A-framed be­hind the trusty Pa­trol, Mur­ray Tay­lor headed to Reefton over the Easter week­end for this year’s Zuk­fest.

on the gravel we stopped to ad­just tyre pres­sures, in my case down to 12psi, and se­lected 4WD.

Hard right

A lit­tle while later, past the start of the track to Big River it was hard right into this nar­row brush-cov­ered track. This was where we needed low ra­tio and ve­hi­cle sep­a­ra­tion, be­cause hav­ing been hit with lots of wa­ter in the past few weeks, the track had cut up. Slowly slip­ping, but mostly un­der con­trol, we crawled down to­wards the first creek. Not long into the track the sec­ond to last ‘ Zuk had clutch prob­lems, with it slip­ping, so it was turned around and with an­other in com­pany ( both be­ing lo­cals) headed for Reefton and re­pairs. The re­main­ing Zuks headed along the creek­side with a cou­ple of cross­ings be­fore head­ing through a sec­tion of turned over river bed ( long gone are the men who did this with pick and shovel) be­fore a sharp right turn up an al­most ver­ti­cal 5m wall to ar­rive at Green Hut, on a flat above the river bed. Af­ter lunch and a brew it was time to head back up the track, the re­turn an ex­er­cise in con­trolled di­rec­tion, ac­cel­er­a­tor po­si­tion and a bit of pray­ing along the way...

Af­ter winch­ing our leader and one other we ar­rived back at the start of the track, hav­ing de­cided that it was closer to a grade 4 than grade 3 due to all the re­cent wa­ter dam­age… As the af­ter­noon was still young, it was de­cided to do a run through to Big River, with Pete point­ing out the odd side track along the way. On ar­rival at the winch house, the kids in the group headed up to the pop­pet head. Af­ter a brief ex­plore and chat, we all headed back to­wards Reefton hav­ing had a great first day out, with the only noise the odd clunk from un­der­neath hav­ing lost the hand­brake. Ar­rival at the mo­tel was time to re­lax and have din­ner with any prob­lems be­ing left to the morn­ing...

Up early

Satur­day and it was a case of up early and time to find out the prob­lem... A brief trip un­der ‘ Lit­tle Whale’ showed the left hand brake ca­ble was com­pletely de­stroyed, and the mount­ing bracket was bent. What to do? The short an­swer was ca­ble tie the ca­ble out of the way, re­move the bracket and we were all go again, al­beit with­out a hand­brake, for an 8am ap­point­ment at the Work­ing­mens club. With the pos­si­bil­ity of rain it was de­cided that Napoleon Hill was the first or­der of the day so off we went, over Reefton sad­dle, down past Ika­matua and over the Grey River to turn right into Waipuna Road, be­fore stop­ping on ar­rival at Waipuna Creek. Af­ter a brief look at the log be­fore the gate, it was over the bridge through the gate on the left and left again into the streambed. The creek was low and travel was good all the way to the tun­nel for an­other brief stop, the call be­ing made to con­tinue up stream and use the Mos­quito Creek track to en­ter the main track south of the old set­tle­ment site.

Tun­nel vi­sion

Morn­ing tea was had at the junc­tion and af­ter a brief stop we headed along the track to Napoleon Ceme­tery. Our next stop was along­side a miner’s tun­nel which ran into the side of the hill 30- 50m and came out the other side af­ter split­ting three ways; most went through the tun­nel and back again. It was in­ter­est­ing as hav­ing been down the hill a few times in the past, I was not

aware of the hole in the cliff face along­side the track. We then con­tin­ued at our own pace down No­bles Creek, through the tun­nels to come out into Waipuna Creek again. While driv­ing the creek the rain had ar­rived and it was de­cided to head down­stream and have lunch un­der the road bridge. Once lunch was over, it was back down the road then up Snowy River Road un­til we passed the old fuel pump and took a hard right down a pleas­ant lit tle track which would take us all the way to the Grey River and the top of the lower gorge. With a side track on the way, which had an in­ter­est­ing tree fell sec­tion to get through, we ar­rived at the end of the track in time for a short walk to the head of the gorge, af­ter­noon tea, then the run back to Reefton, a shower and din­ner hav­ing had an­other great day with no break­ages…

Sun­day best

Sun­day, a new day, no rain and clear­ing skies and it was look­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing morn­ing as the Wankel Hill track was an­other I had heard about but not done. To get there we had to drive out past the Big River turn off and keep on go­ing, past the turn off to Green Hut, be­fore a brief stop at the end of the road then re­trac­ing our steps 50m to find a hard right into a very nar­row rut­ted track. With lots a wa­ter and mud about, the first ob­sta­cle was a large log in the track, so af­ter winch­ing the first truck through, the rest put a wheel on the log and drove it. The steps got big­ger and the amount of time a wheel was off the ground in­creased. The last sec­tion was a long chute which we winched the first truck down un­der guid­ance. One other drove it but the rest of the trucks drove the chicken track, the last 100 me­tres of which was in­ter­est­ing due to the wheel ruts and mud. Af­ter lunch we headed for Power Line ridge, which is a short but pleas­ant al­ter­na­tive route to get to Reefton, through the cow race, and up the hill to the look­out, through the gate and down to the next py­lon/ look­out point... at which stage the track van­ishes into a gorse bush! It’s then down through the bush – with a very sharp turn even for a Suzuki – be­fore head­ing down what is the sec­ond winch

sec­tion if head­ing up­hill. Af­ter a lit tle slip­ping and slid­ing we ar­rived at the bench be­fore the last drop into the creek... which re­quired a bit of road con­struc­tion as the left hand side of the drop-in had col­lapsed. Un­der guid­ance we all headed down and out onto the Inan­gahua River bed, from whence we headed out on a track lead­ing to the main road which took us to Reefton. With plenty of time left in the day, a smaller group headed back into the Big River road to do Mer­ri­jigs track.

To sum up?

A great three days, with the ‘ Lit­tle Whale’ go­ing places I thought I was go­ing to get stopped. Equip­ping it with a Power Trax diff was cer­tainly a saviour and I learned a lot along the way... and am al­ready look­ing for­ward to Zuk Cen­tral, Easter 2016.

Into and out again from Green Hut

Lit­tle Whale get­ting wet!

No­bles Creek tun­nel ride

Sec­ond pinch point on Wankel Hill

Zuk­Fest 2015 HQ in down­town Reefton...

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