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.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story & photos by Vicky New­port

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.

Slip les­son

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.

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