My kind of Sunday drive
I love driving, am a big fan of motorsport and appreciate high performance cars (and bikes for that matter). My own car is no slouch, if nothing extraordinary, and one of my favourite things to do is spend hours touring on the open road, such as when I make the drive from Wellington to Auckland once or twice a year.
A couple of years ago one of my friends fulfilled a long-held goal of owning a Porsche. After a careful hunt he decided upon a 911 Carrera, a lot of miles on the clock but still in excellent nick. I was excited for him and from time to time would hear about his excursions with the local Porsche club. He was keen to get me out for a ride but we never managed to coordinate.
So I was very chuffed when for my 40th birthday Dan offered to loan her to me for a day. Also honoured; he wouldn’t relinquish his beloved to just anyone! Life then got in the way and it was only very recently that it was organised. The date was confirmed and I crossed my fingers that the weather gods would be in good humour.
The car swap took place on Saturday evening. Receiving some in-car tuition, Dan ran through the quirks and the many buttons and so forth. I took note of everything except the stereo; there was only one thing I wanted to listen to! The deep rumble of the boxer engine sounded fantastic from inside the car.
The final handover was a trip round the block. (Cue Hayley grinning like a fool.) First advisory from Dan: from standing you have to give the throttle some beans to avoid the engine stalling. (More than happy to comply.) Second advisory: reverse and first gears are easy to mix up. I was soon inclined to agree and in fact remained a little paranoid about that for the rest of my time with the car. Mental visions of heading backwards at the lights, other motorists tut-tutting at the female driver and a blonde one at that. Horror!
I dropped Dan off and continued back home, getting acquainted with the car. We got on very well and I couldn’t wait for my big drive the next morning.
Mike wasn’t able to come and was enjoying a sleep in at my early departure time (well, early for a Sunday). Instead I persuaded one of his sons to come outside to record the occasion.
After quite possibly disturbing the neighbours getting the old girl – i.e. the European one – warmed up it was finally time to get going.
It was a stunning day, utterly perfect for what I had planned.
I needed to get out of the city to fully appreciate the car and the destination I had in mind was the Wairarapa, north east of Wellington, specifically Lake Ferry, a small settlement on Palliser Bay. The country roads out that way are in good condition but do get popular on weekends. Still, at this time of day I might avoid much of the inevitable traffic.
To get there you have to drive the long winding hill road over the Rimutaka Ranges. I was looking forward to this and it was lots of fun, until I caught up to traffic.
No such problems after the turn off at Featherston. Fantastic roads, and all mine. I don’t endorse flouting the speed limit so endeavoured to keep within the generally accepted tolerance. Or what I hoped was still the generally accepted tolerance.
Lake Ferry is a conservative 1.5 hours from Wellington so it didn’t take too long to get there. It’s a small sleepy place with a population that swells a bit in summer and is popular among campers, fishermen and day trippers.
I couldn’t visit here and not go for a quick wander to get photos.
I left and went to Martinborough, a busy wine region town, for breakfast at the excellent Medici Cafe. From there, an awesome back road took me to Carterton. And then it was time to point the car back to Wellington.
With a pang I pulled into Dan’s driveway. Prior to this day I hadn’t harboured any particular desire for a Porsche myself. But now I would definitely put one on my car lust list.
Santa, if you read this, I have been quite good this year…
And Dan if you read this, thanks so much again.