Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff

June 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ’s FJ Cruiser ‘Top to Bottom’ off-road adventure reached the Bluff on Monday, concluding the adventure for Marc Ellis and his support crew. The special journey was part of 60th Anniversary celebrations for Toyota’s iconic Land Rover and included two weeks trawling over 4,980 kilometres of rugged off road country.

In typical Land Cruiser fashion the new, retro-inspired vehicle survived in good nick, except for a healthy caking of mud, a cracked windscreen, one blown tyre, and a some dog wee where the farm dogs from Molesworth Station got a bit over excited as they checked out the inside of the FJ Cruiser.

The off-road challenge, with Marc Ellis at the helm of a specially fitted-out new FJ Cruiser, restarted on 15 May at Puhoi, north of Auckland, and journeyed through Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago. Continue reading “Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff” »

Land Cruiser celebration journey begins at Cape Reinga

February 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota’s Top to Bottom off-road team, including Marc Ellis at the wheel of a special expedition FJ Cruiser, set off on its epic journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff yesterday.

The trip is to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Toyota Land Cruiser, an iconic vehicle which has been in New Zealand for nearly six decades.

Television presenter Marc Ellis received a dawn blessing and haka from tangata whenua Ngati Kuri ahead of an expected 16-day challenge to get to the southernmost tip of the South Island using back country roads, farm trails and established tracks.

“It is a highly spiritual place for Ngati Kuri, and their words will no doubt cause us to reflect on the task ahead,” Marc Ellis said. “I love challenges, and there are few things I like better than being out and about in heartland New Zealand, encountering down-to-earth Kiwis who make this country special.”

If he wants to drive on tarseal at any point he has to earn credits by accepting further challenges from the public. An expected highlight will be to take the FJ Cruiser on a Goodbye Pork Pie-inspired train trip from Masterton to Wellington to avoid the city’s motorway network.

Nearly 1000 people around the country have answered Marc Ellis’ appeal for help, with route advice and offers of classic Kiwi hospitality. Each one has gone in the draw to win a 1970s FJ40 fully refurbished by Toyota’s own ‘Signature Class’ plant in Thames

He will meet locals and national legends alike on his journey, including netball icon Dame Lois Muir, multi-world champion shearer David Fagan, and rugby great ‘Grizz’ Wylie. His first passengers this morning were two Ngati Kuri kaumatua along Ninety Mile Beach.

The new FJ Cruiser’s design is unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40. It has been specially fitted with high-tech navigation equipment, storage capacity, and even a fridge. Continue reading “Land Cruiser celebration journey begins at Cape Reinga” »

Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey

January 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For 2011 Toyota New Zealand is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its legendary Land Cruiser.

The Land Cruiser is an iconic model for Toyota and has been part of New Zealand’s forestry, farming and off-road heritage for nearly six decades.  As a key part of its celebrations, Toyota is challenging television presenter Marc Ellis to drive a new FJ Cruiser, which is unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40, from Cape Reinga to Bluff — entirely off tar sealed roads.

The adventure dubbed ‘Top to Bottom — Off road’ is a tribute to the legacy Land Cruisers have forged after 60 years, says Neeraj Lala, Toyota’s Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Product.

“In many ways, this trip reflects the celebrated Kiwi spirit of giving things a go. Toyota believes ‘if you dream it, you can do it’, and we’d like New Zealanders the length of the country to help us make the dream a reality. Perhaps they can open up a private track or suggest a secret route the vehicles can use to avoid a road, offer a splash of petrol if things get tight in the back country, or they might just like to invite some weary travelers in for a hot cuppa.”

Ellis will set off down Ninety Mile Beach on 21 February. Meeting up with the intrepid travelers at points along the way will be a fully restored Kiwi classic — a late 1970s FJ40 Land Cruiser which Toyota bought from a customer after a long search for the classic and will give away to someone who helps the team achieve its goal.

“It’s quite fitting for the new FJ Cruiser, which un-mistakenly descends from some of the most iconic Land Cruiser models, to be the vehicle to attempt this epic journey,” says Neeraj Lala.

Toyota expects the team to take 16 days of driving to reach the southern tip of New Zealand, via seven checkpoints. Ellis is set to meet national and local legends on the way.

Ellis has been challenged to only use back country roads, farm trails and tracks. If he wants to go on tar seal he has to earn credits to do so by meeting further challenges.

The vehicles will head south on the North Island’s western side as far as Taranaki, traverse the island to Hawke’s Bay, and on to the South Island via Wellington. From Picton, the FJ Cruiser will go through the centre of the South Island high country and the heart of Otago.

Continue reading “Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey” »

Kiwi man becomes world’s best at parallel parking (+video)

July 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

You might think you’re pretty damn good at parallel parking. Well we all do really, it’s in the blood, but now one kiwi male can actually lay legitimate claim to being the world’s best at parallel parking.

Local hero Peter Bell has parked a Toyota Corolla in a space that’s just 27 cm longer than the car, on the set of the NZ Smashes Guinness World Records TV show at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. He didn’t just back it in nice and gentle either, Bell ripped up the handbrake and put the Corolla into a 180-degree spin into the park in one tidy piece of work.

The previous record for the tightest parallel parking was held by the Chinese and it was set at 32 cm, which represents the space remaining between the parked car, and the two vehicles in the front and at the rear. Bell’s first attempt took him to a new tightest parallel parking world record of 31 cm. The following attempts got him even further setting the new Guinness World Record of 27 cm.

Watch the video below to see the record breaking parking and to see the show’s host Mark Ellis almost wet himself with fake excitement. Continue reading “Kiwi man becomes world’s best at parallel parking (+video)” »