At Lake Ohau Lodge on 13 March 2021, two worthy winners were announced for the 2021 FAT Tour. Don Carter and Peter McBurney took home the big prize, and as we all know, that means they have the privilege of organising the following year’s tour. We were all secure in the knowledge that COVID was under control in New Zealand and although there was a small matter of a National Rally in Southland at the end of February there was nothing really to stop a Further Afield Tour from happening as well. It could be delayed by a month or so if necessary.
Funny how things happen then. COVID, it turns out, wasn’t under control in our fair country, the National Rally had to be cancelled, and the potential to hold a FAT Tour went the same way. That makes it tough on the organisers. What to do next and when becomes the big question. The Club was lucky the Tour organisation was being led by Don as he wasn’t going to let a little thing like COVID get in the way. Just keep making revised or new plans. And that’s what they did. Delayed until August, plans were eventually confirmed, and the dates were set as Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August 2022.
Starting with a gathering at Rosebank Lodge in Balclutha on Friday evening all were ready for departure at 9.30 on Saturday morning. Brisk but fine weather and following a briefing from Don we were off. Easy instructions as we followed the Clutha River through to Raes Junction, then to Clyde and the Old Post Office for lunch. A few questions to answer on the way. A necessary part of the Tour as an organiser for the following year must be found. Not sure why that’s called the winner, though.
After lunch, off over the Pig Route to Palmerston and Hamden, where another set of instructions and questions were waiting on us. As we all know, gravel roads are not really favoured on these tours. So, it was an unpleasant surprise to come across a road closed/accident sign that turned us down a typical Central Otago gravel road. Affected by frost and rain, we were lucky there had been enough traffic to smooth the surface but not the ruts. So a slow part of the journey as MGs do not have great ground clearance but no problems were encountered.
On arrival in Hamden, a new set of instructions to take us to our final destination at Omarama. The roads out the back of Oamaru through to Duntroon are just built for MG’s. However not necessarily the case when the area has received multiple flood events, and so we found areas where the seal had washed away, the shoulders were undermined, and water cross the road. Otematata was awash with water. Most of these sites were not signed, so real care was required.
All arrived at the Heritage Hotel in Omarama and checked into the hotel. COVID is still having an effect in the area, so the Heritage dining room was closed, so it was over to the Hotel for tea. Our trusty Tour organisers had marked all the questions sheets and come up with a winner. Rod and Paddy Ann Pemberton took home the big prize and seemed genuinely pleased with the thought of putting the 2023 FAT together. The other prize on the night was the Hard Luck Prize. That went to Russell and Raewyn Hawkes for coming second on the run. Perhaps they may consider they were the real winners.
Sunday dawned fine in Omarama, and it was off to the Wrinkly Ram for breakfast, then away home. The trip over the Lindis Pass was interesting with very heavy rain and, as we headed south, even some snow. Home safely mid-afternoon after another really enjoyable Further Afield Tour. Great company with the 30 people who took part in their MGs.
Our special thanks to Don and Peter for their perseverance in arranging the 2022 Tour. It was a great weekend.
A small confession is required at this stage. Russell and Raewyn were not in their MG but a Subaru XV. Heated seats, air conditioning, and a little more ground clearance made the whole trip much easier.
Russell & Raewyn.