THE WILD WEST
The Nelson 4 Wheel Drive Club has quite a big group following the Mainland Superwinch Winch Challenge and with that over for 2016 it was time for the competing members to relax and get back into a few club trips.
Three teams from the club entered all five rounds of the 2016 Challenge with all returning home with top placings throughout the rounds and series overall.
To get them back into the swing of things before the long summer break we thought we would put on an interesting (some might use the word ‘challenging’) weekend trip to the West Coast, Westport, being our starting point with the trip leader none other than Mr Scotty Newport with me (Vicky) in the passenger seat this time.
Most headed to Westport from Nelson on Friday November 4th. We had booked a house plus a few rooms at the McManus Hotel. This is a great place to base as it can accommodate a large number of people and has everything needed (great food, beverages and central to Westport township).
Not too late of a night was had as Scotty had a great day lined up on the Saturday. We were heading into a fairly well known track called the Tailings.
Day 1: Stepping up!
At 9:30am at the Clock Tower on Saturday morning the weather was a bit undecided there was a wee bit of rain but it didn’t look like it was going to come to much. A good thing because there was also just a wee concern for a planned river crossing, but we were about to check that out on the way.
We headed south from Westport towards Charleston, stopping at Big Totara River to check that and to let some air out of the tyres. From there we drove about two kms to the entry point, heading in on what used to be an old logging road.
The Tailings had been hit hard a few years ago by a big windfall and was closed for a time. A lot of hard work from locals and other four-wheel-drive clubs got it open again. Still the track was pretty overgrown and a lot rougher than it was the last time we were here. We were putting this track down as a Grade 4-5 at the moment. It didn’t look like it had had too much traffic over it recently.
We had seven trucks in tow, one without a winch but that was a Jeep so Scotty was confident it would get through. Scotty led the charge in our club truck, a very modified Surf on 33” tyres, and it was a bit of a challenge in places.
Also on board was our daughter Megan (Scotty’s winch challenge co-driver) as she was going to be getting some driving lessons. So at each challenge along the way Scotty was out and it was Megan in the driver’s seat.
Some parts of the track were pretty slow going as there was a lot of winching, boulders and deep wheel ruts which were causing a lot of diffs to get caught up.
One of the highlights getting through the Tailings is the Steps or Stair Case (as it is known). The slope would be about 40 degrees and I was certainly glad we were going up it and not down. No one even attempted to drive it as we didn’t want any broken trucks. Everyone used their winches instead, with the Jeep without a winch hooked on the end of Kooze’s Jeep and winched up.
Around lunch time Kooze had lost his power steering so we decided to stop and have lunch and put that back on. All done we were off again.
About 10 minutes down the track we came to a corner which had a slip over it
and it had been washed out on the bottom side. Time for me to get out of the Surf and leave Scotty to it. Megan didn’t even get a look in at this one. After he walked around it Scotty thought he would give it a go. With the truck sliding sideways and one back wheel sliding off the track, with a bit of power he slid around making it look reasonably easy. Chris was up next, the Range Rover doing the same thing. It was still looking a bit scary, though, so they decided they would put a bit of manpower into it. Digging the edge off helped a lot and we got the rest around no problem.
From here the track had not been driven for quite some time. Very overgrown. We even imagined maybe we were going to come across a nice surprise which would make us turn around but no, we kept going and it wasn’t long till we were out.
Awesome day and we can now tick the Tailings track off our list again.
While out this way we decided to head into Charleston for a look. They were having a community day with a re-enactment of gold mining on Charleston Beach. Very interesting.
Back to Westport. Relax and a bit of a
social gathering over dinner at the Hotel.
Day 2: The Mackley
There was another 9.30am start Sunday at the Clock Tower. A couple more trucks had arrived. Sunday was an easier day, graded about a two. It was drizzling again but not heavy. We headed to the Denniston Plateau. Some braved the fog and drizzle and had a wee look around Denniston. It was a shame the weather wasn’t in our favour as the views from here are awesome and a very interesting place to take a walk. From here we headed to the Mackley Track. The fog cleared and we ended up with a pretty reasonable day. About 20 minutes into the drive we came to the start of the Mount Frederick track. At the same time we got a whiff of melting plastic, so we stopped to check that out. Air conditioning wasn’t going to be working for the rest of this trip. Then we got an SOS call from Kooze. A shock absorber had snapped off his Jeep so Chris was nominated trip leader and Megan photographer for the rest of the day. They had to get the group to the top of Mount Frederick and back out and then through the Mackley track. Scotty and Kooze made a quick fix on the Jeep using a Tea Tree log, carved and shaped to fit which was tied in place with a bit of wire. Good to go we headed back to Westport slowly. A friendly local by the name of Nuts was waiting for us. A quick weld on the Jeep and we headed in the direction of Nelson. Kooze and co carried on as it was a temporary fix only and Scotty and I headed back into the Mackley Track from the Iron bridge end. After about 20 minutes we had text coverage and then soon enough radio contact with our club. They had stopped as one of the trucks was having a fuel problem. At least they were on our side of the Mackley River as we had been getting a bit of light rain off and on.
Always carry a pen!
On the way we caught up to two other groups heading through and another coming out. We met up with our club. They were parked up on the track sorting Lloyd’s fuel issue. Lucky to have so many talented people in our club as Carl being a mechanic had discovered the fuel filter wasn’t working as it should. With a few ideas getting thrown back and forth they ended up snapping a pen (biro) and using the tip to bypass the fuel filter. It worked. We were off again. Once on the main road we stopped at the Lyell Cemetery and put some air in the tyres. From there we said our thanks and farewells. Homebound for us all. One member heading back to Christchurch, some stopping for a cuppa in Murchison and the rest straight home. Once again a great weekend, very adventurous and covered both easy and hard graded trips. It’s hard to cater for everyone but the West Coast has so much to offer. Reefton is next on our agenda. Maybe we will get a story on that one too.
Chris sorting his winch before the Stair Case.
Big Totara River carpark.
Leo and Lloyd keep an eye on Kooze.
Community Day at Charleston.
Scotty slowly driving around the slip.
Done and dusted, end of Day 1.
Megan and Chris, photographer and trip leader on Day 2.
Tea Tree to the rescue after Kooze breaks a shock absorber.
Karla out sorting the winch for Carl.
Crawling up the rock to Mt Frederick on Day 2.