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Get your trek on: 2017 Trillian tre — day four and five

23 March, 2017

Words: Liane Clarke Photos: Liane Clarke, Jacqui Madelin Video: Black Magic Media

Over the past 27 years, those involved in the Trillian Trek charity rally (formerly the Variety Bash) have been up and down the country many, many times over. Every Trekker has their favourite bit of road, some fancy the gravel, some like long stretches of straight and some love the winding country roads. 

And in a league of its own, at least for us amateurs, is a burn down 90-mile beach.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — day four of the Trillian Trek saw grants to a handful of extremely deserving kiddies and young people; a ferry across the harbour from Rawene; a community project in the afternoon; and an early finish at Taipa beach front for some light refreshments.

Usually on the week-long non-competitive rally, it’s a different town each night as we try to visit as many communities as possible. This year the charity convoy stayed two nights in Taipa, just east of Kaitaia, the perfect day-trip base to hit Cape Reinga and 90-mile. 

Amusingly all the cars that attempted the 90-mile beach stage of the route on day five got stuck — most before they even got to the actual beach. Luckily a couple of the fire engines in the pack had already gone through with their five and six person crews who were then co- opted into assisting the little guys! 

It was barely organised chaos for a good hour as Trekkers pushed and pulled vehicles out of the sand, including a couple of tourists in a Toyota Yaris who saw all the Trek vehicles attempting the sand and figured they’d be okay — they weren’t. 

They somewhat reluctantly gave up their keys as it was clear they had never been in a car stuck in the sand before and were confused about the need to be in an actual gear and not neutral to speed the process along. 

Once everyone had made it to the beach the pure joy of driving took over and the cars and fire engines of the Trek sped along beside each other enjoying the low tide, the firm sand, and the beautiful Northland afternoon. 

Heading back along State Highway 1, we were reminded that you don’t have to be driving it to love a vehicle, it doesn’t even have to be roadworthy. Dakota (10) and Onyx (9) cannot remember a time when this 1950(ish) Leyland Comet Bus was not parked outside their neighbour’s house. They’ve played in it, on it and around it all their lives. The kids love the ‘Aroha Bus’ and they were very proud to show us around it. They also reckon it still runs … 

Official route of the 2017 Trillian Trek:
19th March Day 1 — Matamata to Orewa
20th March Day 2 — Orewa to Dargaville
21st March Day 3 — Dargaville to Omapere
22nd March Day 4 — Omapere to Taipa/Coopers Beach
23rd March Day 5 — Taipa to Taipa
24th March Day 6 — Taipa to Russell
25th March Day 7 —  Russell to Whangarei

For more information about this event, or how you can support Kiwi kids by donating, head to or visit the Trillian Trek Facebook page

Becoming fond of Fords part two – happy times with Escorts

In part one of this Ford-flavoured trip down memory lane I recalled a sad and instructive episode when I learned my shortcomings as a car tuner, something that tainted my appreciation of Mk2 Ford Escort vans in particular. Prior to that I had a couple of other Ford entanglements of slightly more redeeming merit. There were two Mk1 Escorts I had got my hands on: a 1972 1300 XL belonging to my father and a later, end-of-line, English-assembled 1974 1100, which my partner and I bought from Panmure Motors Ford in Auckland in 1980. Both those cars were the high water mark of my relationship with the Ford Motor Co. I liked the Mk1 Escorts. They were nice, nippy, small cars, particularly the 1300, which handled really well, and had a very precise gearbox for the time.
Images of Jim Richards in the Carney Racing Williment-built Twin Cam Escort and Paul Fahey in the Alan Mann–built Escort FVA often loomed in my imagination when I was driving these Mk1 Escorts — not that I was under any illusion of comparable driving skills, but they had to be having just as much fun as I was steering the basic versions of these projectiles.

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.