Silverfern Rally 2016

Hi Everyone !!


I am sure you will remember that In 2006 when the boys were still in primary school, they were granted the time off to 'do the rally', as long as they wrote a report every night, to be emailed back so it could be read to their classmates the next morning.

This they did( well sort of), and I added my own comments throughout the trip - that year we did 5000 km in something under 10 days in good old ACE the Hiace approaching its million kilometre mark. This practice has more or less continued through until the present day when James is now 20. Zac turnS 20 next month and Rimu 20 in January 2017.

After the epic 2014 event I said I wouldn't do that again, but instead would restrict our involvement to a 'van load' i.e. 8 people max!


URG (Ultimate Rally Group) who are organising this year's event asked if I would put together both a Start and Finish Stage timing team. As you can imagine this sort of put the 'cat among the pigeons' as you might say.

It meant that I had to find at least 11 people (preferably 12) and at least 3 vehicles (preferably 4) !!!!!!

Not being able to get my Start Post Chief in training, to come meant that I was likely to have to do it myself and get another Post Chief for the finish of the stages.

Strange as it seems I DID (sort of) finally manage to get the 11 people most of whom had experience of some kind. This was indeed a mission in itself. Eight from the North Island and three from South Island. Provision of Vehicles was still likely to be problematic but at least we had the numbers.

We were then asked to 'simply' do block marshalling - a much easier, but still very important role.

I jumped at this and said that we had these 11 people confirmed

. YEAH RIGHT! (again)

Almost immediately I started getting withdrawals, and because I had cast the net as wide as I possibly could, getting replacements was well nigh impossible!!

It got to the stage that I was down to seven (including me) and asked URG if that could possibly be enough.

I was devastated to learn that they had been counting of our provision of the eleven mentioned above

and had intended to ask me to increase to 15 or even 16.

To say this caused lots of sleepless nights would be an understatement!!

With excellent work done by various of my 'right hand men/women' I am pleased to say that we seemed to get the numbers.

8 from North Island and 7 from the south.

That meant that we could still use Chalkie the Estima, 8 seats, air con, 4 wd,automatic, power steering a towbar and easy access to the battery (often very important).

However there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip and so it happened.

With another couple of South Island withdrawals meant we had to take more from here

. We are therefore in Glennie, 11 seats, no air con. column change manual, Armstrong steering and rear wheel 2 wheel drive.

Oh bother.

We leave tomorrow night at about 5, for the 2016 Silver Fern Rally,

for which we are providing '2 teams of 7 block marshals, for each of the 8 days'.

For this first '10,000 word missive', I lay out what we are expecting to be doing for the next 10/12 days.

I shall attempt to do a writeup each night and send it off (without relying on anyone else to contribute very much).

If you know of anyone who might be interested, then do please either forward the emails,

or give me their email addresses so I can include them on the list.

SO, Tomorrow (25th Nov 2016) we leave here (Tairua on the lovely Coromandel Peninsula), at about 5 pm,

collecting more at Paeroa, then Tirau, then Putaruru, on to Tokoroa, then back to Rotorua, then to Turangi

- then driving through the night to Wellington.

This time we are taking some newbies but are not doing any really technical work,

even though Block marshalling is actually a vital part of the operation (being a mixture of security and public relations)

The team regard it as'glorified spectating' rather than any real work.

We go over on the ferry at 8.30 a.m and then drive the long way round to Christchurch

and once more descend on my friend Bob.

It could be a bit of a squash !!

We collect gear on Sunday, also our three West Coasters (coming by bus from Greymouth)

and the other 2 (or 3) from Christchurch itself

Monday night we will be in Oamaru.

We then head south and stay at Lake Waihola for pretty much the rest of the week.

Using this as a base and having to travel considerable distances each day - but at least we have a base to come home to each night.

We are doing up to 5 stages a day (remember we have two teams).

Sunday the event finishes in Christchurch.

The Christchurch contingent are,of course then home,

the West Coasters go back over the hill and the rest of us, have to be in Picton by noon on the Monday,

just how long it will actually take us is an unknown factor.

On arrival in Wellington we will probably drive through the night again getting back home hopefully 'tired but happy'.

I do want to place on record those who have agreed to come and work:
Dale C

One real disappointment was that of all the teenagers I (we) took last time only Luke agreed to come

and the rest really were no longer interested.

After all our efforts last time eh??

So there you have it. Our plans for the next two weeks,

real appreciation of my other driving colleagues, especially David,

who is coping magnificantly with the bookings and admin - no mean feat I assure you - Daily updates I hope.

Day -2 - Friday 25th November 2016

Ensured Glennie, had had a proper A Grade Sevice, extra key cut etc. At 3 p.m. we had our numbers, oh joy.

Looked like everything was going to be fine. I had planned to Collect Phlipp, when he finished work nominally between 4 and 5p.m.

1st Disaster (there are going to be many more).

3:15.Two people pulled out - note: less than an hour before we were due to leave!!!

Hurried consultation with Dale followed and we decided that after all we should change the vehicle back to Chalkie,

the 4WD automatic Estima,

and change everything.(Still with a trailer though)

Anyway, Philipp, was on time (as would be expected) - early in fact, and , because we didn't have to collect anyone at Paeroa anymore

we got to Tirau for Dale nice and early, then to Putararu for Leigh, then Tokoroa for Luke

, Rotorua for Poko and then Turangi for Dinny and Denise.

This gave us a full van of 8 people, and as has been our practise we then drove through the night getting to Wellington for the ferry before 6 a.m. - We shared the driving !

Day -1 - Saturday 26th November 2016

We had quite a nice breakfast on board and the trip was not too bad at all. Some of us even tried to catch some sleep!!

Off the ship just after midday, so after food at Blenheim, drove the long way round via Murchison and Springs Junction - some 500k !

It really is a long way round.!!

Arrived at Bob's, met our Christchurch contingent,Nicole and Nathan and had a meal at Chats.

Day 0 - Sunday 27th November 2016

Collectted our gear from Silver Fern Headquarters, and also our West Coast contingent, Fiona, David and Jordan.

We had a quick visit from Brian, then a full briefing at 5 p.m. after which we had a beer and burger each.

Allocated people to each team W1 headed by Warwick,(Nicole, Nathan, Leigh Denise and Jordan) and W2 Headed up by Dale (Poko, Fiona, Dinny, David, Philpp and Luke) using a 10 seater van (5 speed, column change manual), lent by Targa!

Day 1 - Monday 28th November 2016

Out the gate at 5.30 a.m., headed for our 1st stage of the day (and the 1st Stage of the Rally) out the back of Hanging Rock,

than another one near Ngapara by Oamaru.

Meanwhile Dale's team was up at Mt Nessing. Our team clicked really well - at least on the surface - Dale also we very pleased.

Dale, Poko and Fiona cooked a lovely BBQ for dinner - after all they had only done one stage and were back at camp (Waitaki Waters Holiday Park) well before us.

A couple of beers again and it was not until later in the evening that everything unravelled.

The bad news tomorrow !!! Tomorrow night we are at Lake Waihola Camp ground.

Day 2 - Tuesday 29th November 2016

What a disaster!

Afer what had seemed a really good 1st day, we woke up this morning to find that four of our 13 had decamped during the night and 'gone home'!!!

In my 10 years or so of doing this sort of thing this is the VERY first time I have lost people during a rally.

Sure there have been occasions that people have reneged on their commitments a few days beforehand but NEVER during an event.

We were already tight for numbers but this has really upset the apple cart.

To get through Day two, we swapped vehicles, re-allocated those 'good guys' we have left and set out trying to make the best of a bad situation.

This left us with Dale and myself, Poko and Fiona, Philipp, Luke, Dinny, Denise and Leigh.

To add to the complication Leigh was needed for another job' so we lost him for the day too!!!

Anyway, Dale and Poko headed way up country in Chalkie, I had the others in the van, 1st stage out the back of Oamaru, a lovely meal of Fish and Chips at Palmerston, then way up past Middlemarch for our next,

We are now at Lake Waihola Holiday Park where we shall base ourselves till Sat morning. Venturing out each day to do the job then returning each night,

Tonight we again have what can only be described as a fabulous meal at the 'on site' restaurant.

Tomorrow Team 1 does 2 stages (15 and 20), Team 2 does one (18).

We meet back here tomorrow night.

Day 3 - Wednesday 30th November 2016

A much more pleasant day. Out the gate at 7.30.

Our team had 2 stages to do. The first in BerwickForest, the spot I drew can only be described as freezing.

Carl lent me a 'Fishermans Type' waterproof jacket, and although it didn't actually rain it was exceptionally cold.

I was shivering most of the time, but thawed out once I got back into Chalkie with the heater on full.

We then did Scroggs Hill out of Brighton and back home.

This stage was when we truly did a block marshall job,

parking Chalkie straight across the (main) road, to ensure NO cars could intrude onto the rally course.

Meanwhile Dale's team did the stage into Brighton.

Our reduced numbers are creating 'something of a problem' (How is that for an understatement??)

Another nice meal back at Waihola tonight, tomorrow is a big day with several stages each to do, and the consensus is that it is worth making the effort to go down to Bluff once we have finished at Mataura

late in the afternoon.

It will be a late night back tomorrow night !!!

Day 4 - Thursday 1st December 2016

All in all not a bad day. One team did a stage at Hillend, not far from Balclutha, then another very close to Mataura.

The other had one not too far from Hillend, then the next near Clydevale and a final one inland from Gore.

After a marshalling team regroup at Mataura we did a peregrination to Bluff (including Stirling Point and Bluff Hill) really just so everyone could say they had been there.

After a meal at Burger King in Invercargill we headed back home to Waihola getting there a bit before midnight!

But wait there is more!!!

Tomorrow (Friday) our schedule says Both Teams Taping all Day!!

But determining just exactly where we had to be, how many people, and at what time proved exceptionally difficult to work out, even with GPS co- ordinates, descriptions of roads etc this became quite a mission.

When we finally got to bed about 1 am Friday morning we had determined that we had an out the gate time of 5 AM, as we had about 150KM to go and be there by 7 a.m.

I'll let you know tomorrow how we get on.

Day 5 - Friday 2nd December 2016


After not getting to bed until after midnight we had to be 2 hours away no later than 7 AM. You guessed it out of bed at 4 am then out the gate at 5.

We almost made it - about 5.05 a.m. I think it was. Making up late departure time is virtually impossible, particularly when we really do not have a definitive spot to meet, no cellphone (of course) and more worrying no 25W Fleetlink RT communication either.

However, because of the work Dale and I had done working late into the night, the night before, we ACTUALLY did manage to meet Carl more or less at the appointed time and the appointed spot !!!

This day was spent taping - that is EVERY gate on the route has to be secured with Rally Tape to ensure that they can't be opened 'accidentally; and allow vehicles onto the actual stage - as an aside we have done stage timing before, also block marshalling and also detaping but this is our first time actually doing 'leapfrog taping'.

We stop wherever there is a gate and then (both) sides of the van burst open and 'guy' (either sex) charges out, secures the gate in question then back into the van (say 20 secs later).

We assisted with 2 stages, then I pleaded to 'give us a break', and we were released just after midday.

This allowed the teams 'some time to themselves', for the first time in the rally !!!

I am sure I will have recurring dreams of 'gate on right', 'gate on left', two gates on left - oh shit actually 3', oh bugger a driveway 'have we got enough tape' etc, etc.

The team had their 'thank you dinner' Friday night and head north again tomorrow (Sat)

So far Chalkie has done 3700 km in the week since leaving Pauanui.

More news tomorrow night !!

Day 6 - Saturday 3rd December 2016

Well,another GOOD, BAD and sort of all right Day.

The Good.

I left Lake Waihola at 7.15 with Fiona on board, headed straight up Highway one to Christchurch to allow her to catch a bus back to Greymouth to prepare for work on Monday.

The bad

Meanwhile Dale and the rest of the team headed off to marshal their stage, and afterwards were to detape another two stages totalling some 65km.

They then had what was termed a 'medical emergency'!! Whoops.

The first problem was with Denise, and then poor old Luke had to be carted off to Timaru Hospital after collapsing. As it turned out the diagnosis for both was heat exhaustion, brought on by dehydration - but it did mean that we could not fulfil our detaping obligations

The 'Sort of Allright'

From what I can determine. ALL the team, Leigh, Pilipp and the rest did EXACTLY what was required of them - (obviously with Dale in overall charge).

The hospital eventually discharged Luke and they drove back to Christchurch, arriving just after 10.

Tomorrow we are out of the gate (again) before 6 a.m. More tomorrow night !!

Day 7 - Sunday 4th December 2016

Well, the last day of the Rally. Once more our lack of personell raised its ugly head again. With the disasters of yesterday it meant that we needed at least 1 more person to allow us to fulfil our commitments

but as you can perhaps expect, I tried 5 different people in Christchurch, just to get 1 more for the 1 day - but got turned down by everyone.

More juggling between teams, meant that Leigh and I were on the road back to the other side of Cave about 5.30 a.m. and the others were away about 8 also heading for the MacKenzie country.

Our stage had a water ford a foot or so deep, a few cars drowned but all got through eventually. After having lunch we got home mid afternoon,the others arriving 5 ish.

We returned the white van, our radio, and other gear and had a few Ngas tonight. Pieter helped Leigh and I to change our website server - I am hopeful it will be properly up and running again in a day or so.

Tomorrow we, once more undertake the long trek back to Picton, over on the ferry then through the night back home. Epilogue in a few days.

Day +1 - Monday 5th December 2016

Here we go again !!!!

The rally is now OVER, and despite our various trials and tribulations we did, indeed, fulfill virtually all our commitments.

We did have a booking for the van,. trailer and 8 people on the Interislander on the afternoon of today, but decided that to make it via the 'long way round' would mean that we would have to have another 'out the gate' time of between 5 and 6 am.

Quite frankly we were getting sick of these.!!! I was therefore fortunate in managing to change the booking to the (one and only) evening sailing which required a checkin time of NOLATER THAN 5.45 p.m.

This meant that we could leave Bob's at a much more respectable 10.00 am and still make it in plenty of time - YEAH RIGHT !!!

We did realise that arriving in Wellington somewhat after 10 p.m. was 'not ideal' but we felt was the better of the two evils.


Our practice by this stage was to swap drivers hour by hour, i.e. someone would drive for an hour (either during the day or through the night), then another driver would take over for an hour.

All went swimmingly until Murchison (pies and coffees for 9 again pleaae) and another $90 petrol then for some unknown reason the driver and navigator (who I guess should both be kept nameless for now) decided that 'Picton via Nelson' was a better option than 'Blenheim direct'.

This added almost two hours (and how many miles?) to the journey!!!! Yes you can gather that I WAS NOT AMUSED !!!!!!

However, after taking over the driving I managed by stint of sheer skill and willpower to 'get us to the boat on time'. Oh Joy!!!

The ship was somewhat late away because of the number of rail wagons (locally loaded I assume) had to be got on board, so we arrived in Wellington about 10.30 p.m,

whereupon once more our 'drive for an hour system' was put into place.

A stop (toilet) and petrol, and pie and coffee at Waiouru.

Yet another (unneccessary?) toilet stop at Taupo and then droping Poko off at Rotorua, then back to Tokoroa for Luke, then Leigh at Putaruru then Dale at Tirau.

At this point Jane (Dale's wife - thanks Jane)

thought the drivers left (Philipp and myself) should really get our heads down for a couple of hours - which we happily complied with.

Late morning we proceed back to Duck Creek/Pauanui/Tairua, juggled with vehicles, I did my afternoon school run, Phillip emptied the van AND trailer, and now I am unashamedly having a Nga!!

As I said earlier epilog in a couple of days!!


Well not one of our better events!

Memorable perhaps,but for all the wrong reasons. The good news is probably that despite the tremendous difficulties put in our way we pretty much fulfilled our obligations. PHEW.

The saga as it unfolded: We needed a team of 14, but this wasn't confirmed until about a week before the event. The day before we we due to go we 'got our numbers' 15 actually.

Then 3/4 of an hour before we we due to leave two from up here pulled out, leaving a total of 13. 8 from North Island, 3 from West Coast, and 2 from Christchurch.

Still looked like was going to be O.K. if a little light. Phillip finished work early so he and I headed for Dale's place at Tirau (not having to call at Paeroa after all), then collected Leigh at Putaruru then Luke at Tokoroa.

Through to collect Poko at Rotorua then Dinny and Denise at Turangi

James came to the ferry to say 'hello' and after breakfast aboard we went to Chch - the long way round. Lisa dropped in to say hello /good luck. and Nicole and Nathan joined us for beer and pizza at Chats.

Next morning we collected Fiona, Dave and Jordan from the West coast bus - giving us 13 (of the 14 we really needed)

Also collected our gear and the second van - made sure the 25w Fleetlink radios worked. Allocated people to teams - 6 to me in Chalkie, and 7 for Dale in Ferny (the white TARGA 10 seater van). Beer (Nga !!!) and burgers at Bob's for tea

Monday - Out of the gate at 5.30, an almost 3 hr drive to Hanging Rock for the 1st stage of the rally. Stayed at Oamaru

Tuesday - Our disaster (more about the dropouts later), required rejuggling of people and vehicles, I had Ferny (for numbers), Dale took Chalkie (complete with our fully loaded trailer) over the Old Dunstan Rd. Good luck with that.

Made our base at Lake Waihola Holiday Park for the rest of the rally.

Wednesday - Much more pleasant day - but freezing, also did a genuine BLOCK marshaling job with Chalkie parked right across a main road!

Thursday - The day we headed to Bluff once finished for the day - not as good as last time. but at least the team have all been there now

Friday - Taping all day After woking out just where to go which took us till well after midnight, we had to be up again at 4 to be out of the gate for our 2 hr drive by 5 a.m.

Taping was new to us all. we have done detaping. which is a LOT easier and FASTER.

Saturday - I was happy to take Fiona back to Chch to catch the bus back to Greymouth so she could start work on Monday.

Dale therefor had the rest of the troops (and the fully loaded trailer). He also had the 'medical emergency' to deal with. Arrived at Bob's LATE

Sunday - Leigh had drawn the short straw and came with me 'out the gate' 5.30 ish. another 3 hr drive. The others out the gate (sans trailer) by 8 a.m. That afternoon returned gear and van, Bob had arranged a flagon on NGA - priceless !!!

Monday - Had had enough of 'out the gate' times of 5.30 a.m. or earlier so rebooked the ferry to the evening sailing. It was indeed a pity the driver (at the time) and his navigator decided to take us via Nelson adding almost 2 hrs to the journey

once in Wgtn (10.30 pm or so) drove through the night dropping people.home again.

Tuesday - Once back home on Tuesday I did my afternoon school run, and have been sort of recovering ever since.

(Mind you two trips to Hamilton, and a trip to Auckland -with an out the gate time of 5 am since getting home have not helped a lot!!!)


There is no doubt in my mind that what we still see as the a disaster can ne placed squarely at the feet of those that pulled out.

There seemed no concept of commitment. a deal is a deal, or the show must go on. Mind you those that remained did get stuck in and did their best to cover as required and really did go the (necessary) extra mile. If those had stayed (even those that got as far at Oamaru at then end of the first day) would have meant that things would have worked pretty much as planned

Me with my six, Dale with his seven. Each sort of independent, and shaking down into good working teams - but having to rejig, chop and change people and vehicles every single night was certainly less than ideal.

It is not as though (as far as I could tell) there were serious emergencies - which could be understood. But 'I don't feel well - and have left my pills at home', or 'I had better go and look after her', not to mention 'I really should get back to work' and the daddy of them all 'I don't really like the sleeping arrangements' does not fit my criteria of an emergency !!!

To say thus stuffed us up well and truly would be putting it VERY mildly. (Note: after the initial defaulters, the whole eight from the North Island stuck it out - WELL DONE! and I hope they enjoyed it - more or less)

I do want to record our collective appreciation of the= final team










Needless to say I have nothing but abhorrence for those that let us down.


A little break from tradition here as I include this Email from Poko, Dinny, Denise, and Leigh which I received after coming back home:

Good Evening Warwick!

A wonderful warm Thank You to Yourself,Dale,Luke and Phillip from Myself, Dinny,Denise and Leigh for taking us on board with your Team we were very blessed and privileged to have been a part of Simply Better Team (SBT)

You spoilt us you looked after us and we were a part of the team in every way.. Thank You...

Dale wonderful man very patient..

Phillip Lovely I hope he enjoys the rest of his stay and wherever he travels hope he stays safe...

Luke what a very caring young man.

As for you Warwick we did not want for anything..very blessed we were..for that I am very grateful to You..

Yes a great pity about the ChCh and West Coast groups except Fiona a lovely lady she kind of kept our boys in line I tended to get a bit grumpy with them but that is me..

Had the south island crew stayed they would have thoroughly enjoyed their time but unfortunately they did not give it a chance...

The trip was absolutely wonderful and we all enjoyed every minute..

Pity about your birthday young man but they were genuine wishes..

Bob what a lovely lovely gentleman very warm and welcoming and to have us in his beautiful warm home

The Host with the Most...Very Special Blessings to Bob

Another thank you...

On that note please keep us in mind for your team for 2017...

Promise I will be a better navigator hehehe!!...

Thank you so much again...

Stay in contact..look after yourself..

Take Care Be well Stay Well

Kind Regards,

Poko, Dinny, Denise, Leigh