Derestriction Addiction

April 11th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

In a break with a time honoured tradition, practised for as long as the Gregorian calendar has been in existence, I have actually been keeping up with my New Year’s resolution. Unlike the rest of you who are, at this very moment, casting shamefaced glances in the direction of unstretched spandex and a mountain of empty beer bottles, I shunned the stereotypical pledge of pain and abstinence for one of greater pleasure; to get out there and start doing some quality road trips around this beautiful country we get to call home.

Since completing my New Year run up to Cape Reinga, I’ve ventured north to Kai Iwi Lakes, south to Tongariro and even further south to Queenstown. But Easter presented a new opportunity as the current Mrs Grimley and I saddled up and headed east to the idyllic seaside resort of Waihi Beach. If I’m being honest, we actually intended to go to Mt Maunganui, but a lack of forward planning meant we arrived about three months after all the accommodation had been booked and had to beat a hasty retreat north to the one bogless, creature-comfort free chalet that hadn’t been snapped up by people with greater foresight.

But it did present me with my first opportunity for a drive along the Pokeno to Mangatarata section of SH2 since it had the speed limit reduced to 90kph at the end of last year. Thanks to a prevalence of camper vans and agricultural rolling road blocks this has never been a piece of road where excessive speed has been a particular issue for me, but neither has it been one where I’ve felt like the abilities of myself or whatever car I’ve been driving have been challenged on the occasions I’ve been able to make it to three figures.

Are you sure about that?

And this serves to highlight what I’ve always thought – that speed limits are completely ridiculous.

If we’re being honest, any person entrusted with a motor vehicle, which is essentially a tonne of killing machine in the wrong hands , should have a sixth sense as to what is appropriate at any given time for themselves, the conditions and the car. Regardless of what the last sign might have said, it should be blindingly obvious that when passing a primary school at whatever time they deign to kick the sproglets out, the best course of action should be simply to get out of the car and push it. And likewise on a nice summer’s day on a long, straight stretch of road – State Highway 1 between Drury and the Bombay Hills for instance – limiting yourself to 100kph in a car that will easily double that speed in complete comfort is as pointless as giving a lecture on the theory of relativity to a cow.

By taking away a speed limit you take away the challenge of meeting it where conditions aren’t suitable and the frustration of driving in circumstances where it is inappropriately low. Despite the seemingly contradictory evidence of bungee jumpers, sky divers and their ilk, the human instinct for survival is a strong one and I’m prepared to bet that without the guidance of a road sign, most would take a pretty conservative approach to entering a completely unknown corner.

Even the most ardent road safety nutter would have to acknowledge that speed by itself has never killed anyone. The key contributing factor has, and always will be, the person behind the wheel who failed to recognise that what they were doing simply wasn’t right. With proper driver education – and the severest of punishments for those who recklessly endanger others – it should be perfectly possible for drivers to get out there and do their thing without constant input from speed signs.

It would certainly add a liberating feel to the next road trip, being completely free to put your foot down. Particularly if you knew that all those around you were doing the same thing on the correct pedal at exactly the right time.

Cape Crusaders

January 7th, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Hands up all those of you who, although currently engrossed in the Car & SUV website, should actually be at one gymnasium or another thanks to a fatuous and almost certainly drunken promise made around a week ago. If my own experience of New Year’s resolutions is anything to go by, I wager there may be more than the odd one or two of you now raising a paw whilst casting a guilty glimpse in the direction of some unused training shoes and miscellaneous items of spandex clothing with labels still attached.

And I suspect that by now you may be coming around to agree with the conclusion I made last week that any resolutions which involve casting asunder delicious calories and sweating like a sumo in a sauna are, by and large, idiotic.

So, while you may have wasted a week’s wages on never-to-be-used Nike merchandise, you can take heart and look forward to next year, because I can tell you now that resolutions to undertake more road trips are bloody awesome.

True to my word, at 10am on the 1st January, the current Mrs Grimley and I pointed my appalling Mercedes at Cape Reinga, pressed the ‘go’ pedal and headed off North.

Unless, like my illustrious colleague Mr Cottingham, you insist on heading to Coromandel with a million other people and rain over the holiday period then road tripping in New Zealand is an absolute joy. Where other nations have succumbed to the demands of commuting and installed networks of behemoth multi-lane highways, the single carriageway roads that meander through the Kiwi countryside make motoring so much more fun.

The Not So Dynamic Duo

Every bend is a different driving experience, each crest treats you to a new, exciting panorama and a few minutes of basic research into the flora and fauna before setting off turns you into the ‘I Spy’ world champion.

Yes, the camper vans can be a bit wearisome, but it adds a bit of spice to the journey when you can finally find a suitable bit of straight tarmac, plant your right foot and hare past the poor sod whose miserably slow trip is likely to end in an evening of crapping in a bucket whilst the saner members of society have long since checked into their hotel and headed off to the pub.

This is exactly what woman and I did once we’d arrived at Mangonui, our overnight stop for the trip to the Cape. I’d recommend this for two reasons; firstly, taking in the sunset over Doubtless Bay with a cold beer or two and fried seafood is a hedonistic treat and secondly, watching the Cockatoo at the Mangonui Hotel scare the life out of the tourists who misguidedly try to stroke it is possibly Northland’s best entertainment. When you’ve had a few anyway.

But while pugilistic parrots and scoffing bluenose and Mac’s Gold at the ‘world famous’ Mangonui fish shop was amazing, the motoring highlight of the journey came the next morning when we nosed off Waipupakauri Ramp and had our first experience of 90 Mile Beach.

There is something of the Wacky Races about a journey down 90 Mile Beach. It would certainly be a brave soul who chanced sunbathing or sandcastle building when there is an intermittent stream of 4×4’s, buses, confused Asian families in people carriers and miscellaneous tourists in every variety of car imaginable all vying for space on the safer looking hard sand at motorway speeds.

With the sea pounding away to the left and a seemingly never ending stretch of sand along which to put the hammer down it was hugely tempting to take the amazing beach road all the way up to the treacherous Te Paki stream. But with a massive lump of pig iron under its bonnet, rear wheel drive and road-spec tyres, it was decided that if the Merc wasn’t the world’s worst off-road vehicle, it would probably be a close second and we ducked out at the very easy access available at Hukatere Hill.

And while it was very disappointing to leave the beach, a blast down a forestry track is not a bad alternative; particularly when the road at the end is the last sweeping blast of SH 1 which terminates at Cape Reinga itself.

Beware Of The Cockatoo

Cape Reinga is a fitting end to an amazing journey. It isn’t the prettiest or even the most dramatic piece of coastline that New Zealand has to offer, but when you stand down at the lighthouse with the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean furiously arm wrestling below and an endless expanse of churning blue ahead, it is very special indeed.

I left Cape Reinga feeling like I had been immersed in an almost spiritual experience. And the feeling stayed with me for all of about 800 yards until the current Mrs Grimley decided to plug in her I-Whatsit and transmit some musical abomination from nineteen eighty-something onto the stereo. Whether it was a spirit of the Cape or just one of the myriad of electrical issues that plague the old girl manifesting itself through the cigar lighter socket I’ll never know, but as soon as the music started the engine fell victim to an almighty fit of coughing which only remedied when the offending audio-pollution ceased and my Foo Fighters CD returned to active duty.

The homeward journey was broken down into much shorter legs, with stops at Kerikeri and the beautiful Whangarei Heads before we finally rolled back into Auckland. It is only natural to feel a sense of disappointment when a holiday is over, but given that this trip was made in a twenty year old car with almost 200,000km behind it, the sense of relief when we stopped on the driveway without falling victim to any major issues was an endorphin boost in itself.

In fact the only downside to the whole trip was a combination of sun, salt water and an impromptu caving session at Abbey Caves, Whangarei killing off a pair of my favourite shorts. Although on the plus side, today’s trip to replace them confirmed that I have no problems getting into an 87cm waist.

And that means the sit-ups can wait for another week.

The Age Of Resolution

January 2nd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Not too many weeks ago, I caused much laughter and general hilarity around the office when I resolved that by the end of the summer season I would be the proud owner of a bronzed physique that would allow me to supplement my meagre income as a SBW double.

Being a slightly lardy Pom with flesh reminiscent of a bottle of Anchor, my colleagues’ comic disbelief was understandable. Not only did I have the inconvenience of an intensive sit-up regime and modification of my diet to match the calorific intake of a bulimic mouse to contend with, but also a fairly major raft of genetic inadequacies too.

However, with the foolhardy determination of one whose only previous association with the word ‘diet’ was as a prefix to ‘coke’ I set about my challenge with gusto. And without wanting to blow my own trumpet I made a fairly decent fist of it – thanks to a couple of sunny days at the beach my skin tone transformed to a weak beige and because I live in an area of North Shore where you need pitons to get up the average driveway, I shed a number of kilos through gentle exercise; things were looking good.

Sod the gym; let's all be more driven in 2012

Then, along came Christmas.

Thanks to well meaning but entirely misguided efforts at gift giving on behalf of my circle of friends, around 80% of my diet for the last seven days has been manufactured by Cadbury’s; with a similar proportion of my liquid intake coming courtesy of the good folk at the Tui brewery.

And because the weather has been changeable at best, my exercise regime has dwindled to become nothing more than lifting paint rollers during half-hearted efforts at renovating Grimley Towers. So because of this, in conjunction with my calorie intake ballooning to that of the average American, it’s no real surprise to find that the electronic scales now feel the need to remind me that they don’t take coach parties.

All of which has taught me a valuable lesson – making resolutions that require a) lots of physical effort and b) self deprivation of the almighty foaming ale is a really stupid idea.

But to find the silver lining in this particular cloudy vista, the 31st December is rather a good time to learn such a lesson. Because while the rest of the country will be crawling out of bed the following afternoon with a stinking hangover and the first gym payment looming, I’ll be on my way to putting a sizable chunk of my own resolution to bed.

At the crack of dawn (which is around 10am in my world) we – being myself, the current Mrs Grimley and a bag of acceptably clean underwear – are clambering into my sheddy Mercedes and chugging off in a Northerly direction. And unless the car decides otherwise, we are going to keep going all the way to Cape Reinga.

It can be all too easy for those of us whose working week and other commitments mean we often see little beyond our own home town or city to forget just how amazing New Zealand is. We know it’s pretty special and we know it’s out there, but somehow there’s never quite enough time to pop out and visit. Besides, we seem to get a lot of jealous karma from tourists just for being on the same landmass anyway.

But to take the place for granted in this manner is nigh on unforgivable; particularly when so many of these incredible places are at the end of some truly spectacular drives. And so, starting tomorrow, I resolve to get out there, drive the roads, see the sights and truly appreciate this astonishing country. I can only hope the Mercedes agrees.

And as soon as I get back I promise the sit-ups will start again.

Audi releases R8 Spyder Brazilian road trip video

March 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Audi R8 is a stunning machine in anyone’s book and when it’s in Spyder V10 form it’s the dream car of many. Taking such a machine on a tour of Brazil would be a dream road trip for a lot of adventurous souls. Audi has recognised this and put its R8 Spyder against a Brazilian back-drop for a stylish and relaxed promotional video.

Take two minutes out of your day, sit back, crank up the volume, watch the video below and let yourself do some serious daydreaming. Continue reading “Audi releases R8 Spyder Brazilian road trip video” »