Land Rovers a way of life

SHARE

Where to from here? Otago Land Rover Enthusiasts' Club president Noel Harper offers some guidance to Gerald Harrex and Suzanne Bell.

Where to from here? Otago Land Rover Enthusiasts’
Club president Noel Harper offers some guidance to
Gerald Harrex and Suzanne Bell.

Convoy ... Otago Land Rover Enthusiasts' Club members line up in Te Papanui Conversation Park.

Convoy … Otago Land Rover Enthusiasts’ Club
members line up in Te Papanui Conversation Park.

Mud and guts ... Club president Noel Harper drives his 1990 Land Rover Defender 90 through a muddy puddle on the Te Papanui track. PHOTOS: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

Mud and guts … Club president Noel Harper drives his 1990 Land
Rover Defender 90 through a muddy puddle on the Te Papanui track.
PHOTOS: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

The Otago Land Rover Enthusiast’s Club ventured to Te Papanui Conservation Park last Sunday. The Star reporter Joshua Riddiford strapped himself in next to president Noel Harper for some four-wheel-drive action.

 

It was a Sunday but my day began early. Otago Land Rover Enthusiasts’ Club president Noel Harper had called me the evening before to confirm that the club’s previously postponed drive to Te Papanui Conservation Park was all on and he would pick me up at 8am.
The next morning he pulled up in his 1990 Land Rover Defender 90 and we were on our way. There were seven vehicles on this trip and we met the other trip-goers in Outram, including a pair from Queenstown and other Dunedin locals.
It was snowing the last time the club visited Te Papanui and as we headed up the hill the weather took on a foreboding air as cloud descended on the convoy.
Not checking the weather conditions can easily get four-wheel-drivers into trouble, especially in Otago where it can change quickly, Mr Harper said. It was important to be prepared.
That was why he carried important items such as an emergency locator beacon, a first aid kit and a tow strap.
Travelling higher, the impact of recent wet weather became clear. Leading the convoy, Russell Smithies became stuck twice and had to be towed out from a muddy puddle and another spot where his vehicle got stuck low on the ground.
As we travelled up, I learned more about the club. That included the good-natured ribbing between owners of different Land Rover models.
Mr Harper remembered when new model Land Rover Discoveries came in in the 1990s, drivers who preferred these creature comfort vehicles were the subject of some teasing.
“These poncy Discoveries. We gave them [the drivers] a hard time. They had heating. We were freezing our nuts off.”
Gerald Harrex has been a member of the club since it began and, driving a green 1970 Series 2, he said he enjoyed the banter.
“We pretend we have breakaway groups,” he said. Like an imagined Series 2 group. Mr Harrex was the only Series 2 driver on the trip.
Mr Harrex’s association with Land Rovers began while growing up on a farm in the Ida Valley, where he remembered his father’s Land Rover Series 1.
Members of the club definitely share quite some enthusiasm about Land Rovers.
Paul Clark warned me after we reached our lunch time spot that I might “catch the Land Rover disease”.
There were various stopping points, to replace a “light no fires” sign which had been shot out, then to dig trenches to help water flow more easily off muddy puddles on the track.
At about 3pm, we drove out the other end of Te Papanui, next to Waipori forest, and headed back to Dunedin.
I haven’t caught the “Land Rover disease” yet but it was a fun way to spend a Sunday with a group of passionate people.

 

Te Papanui
Conservation Park
Opened in 2003
Main access via the Lee Stream Outram Road
Entrance about 5km past Rocklands Station
No fires are allowed