Mad Dash to Haast historic journey recreation ‘bedlam’

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Pit stop . . . Mad Dash to the Haast participants stopped at Knight's Point on the West Coast on Saturday. PHOTO: GRAEME SIMPSON

A fleet of vintage cars battled “complete bedlam” to rise to the challenge of recreating a historic journey across the South Island.

Eight Austin cars departed Dunedin for Haast at 4am on Friday with the goal of matching the time taken by Les Nye and Gordon Sharpe in a 1930 Austin Tourer in 1965.

Mad Dash to the Haast participant Graeme Simpson, of Oamaru, said he drove his 1945 Austin 8 on the trip.

About a dozen Austins were on the trip, some joining the journey along the way, such as Mr Simpson, who joined in Oamaru.

It was “complete bedlam”, Mr Simpson said.

“We had all sorts of weather – high winds, rain and thunder and hot temperatures.”

The 1930 Austin Tourer driven on the original trip was among the vehicles on the trip but broke down and needed to be towed to Lake Paringa Lodge, north of Haast, where its journey ended.

Several cars broke down on the journey but on the return trip an Austin 7 made it to Dunedin’s city limits just before 8pm, matching the time of the men on the historic trip.