I am a joint owner of ‘Pukerau – the farm’ (called that to differentiate with Pukerau – the township near Gore, Southland); and I am the Off-Road Trip Operator and Director of Pukerau 4WD Ltd (now ceasing to operate and trade).
I have lived on this property for my whole life of 65 years (apart from three years in the army), and been involved with a vast array of off-road and four-wheel drive transportation. The farms owned by my father were originally 3,000 acres (1,215 ha) in total, of rolling to very steep contour, running sheep and cattle breeding stock. I purchased one of the farms, 1,600 acres (647 ha), which is now reduced to 305 acres (123.5 ha). The contours of the present property still range from 20m to 343m above sea level.
Growing up when the horse was the main off-road transport with hacks for general transport and draft horses for pulling the sledge; moving onto two-wheel drive tractors on rubber; or on steel wheels for steep hill disc-ing; tractors progressing from having side brakes, winches, and diff-locks through to four-wheel drive tractors; Land Rovers (long wheelbase and short wheelbase) with capstan winch, power-take-off winches, to electric winches – these with flat deck and station wagon configurations: this has been my life.
I started riding the very earliest of farm motorbikes, and went on to the New Zealand-designed and built three-wheel ‘gnats’ (pre-three-wheelers and quad bikes), operating in all conditions from very wet to very dry; and in bush and over open paddocks.
In the early 1980s I owned a 4WD Subaru station wagon for five years, drove light tipping 4WD trucks (a 109-inch Forward Control Land Rover and the two tonne Jeep J20) for over 25 years, and towed light to medium trailers.
I helped the local Clevedon Young Farmers Club organise and run three ‘tag along’ events for 4WD and horses thirty years ago. For five years I was a member of Manukau Four Wheel Drive Club in the early 1980s, organising, setting out and running club trips (and club weekend camps) on my property.
I have worked beside bulldozer operators, ditch diggers, fertilizer truck operators and fencing contractors that have all had a valuable input into my 46 years of off-road and four wheel drive experience.
I have set up a company called ‘Pukerau 4WD Ltd’ and I have gained re-classification (through the Resource Consent hearing by Manukau City Council’s commissioners) for my land to be used for ‘Outdoor Recreation – primarily 4WD’. I now run formal and informal activities for training and trips on my land and other land available to me, to improve people’s driving skills in a way that safely builds on their abilities and skills. This company has run a range of familiarisation and experience building trips – some one-on-one; some with 10 – 13 vehicles; and three ‘Scenic Safari’ fundraisers with up to 38 4WDs attending. One was combined with 17 horses and two ATVs.
Pukerau 4WD Ltd had its own ‘protocol documentation’ on matters relating to Health and Safety called ‘The OSH Question’.
Trips and training were run on open rolling to steep pasture land; on pasture, clay tracks and metal road; in native bush and in forestry and in some wetlands. River driving is on an adjoining property.
I am a qualified on-road and off-road Driving Instructor and was a NZQA qualified 4WD trainer and workplace assessor registered with Tranzqual Industry Training Organisation (formerly known as NZ Road Transport and Logistics ITO).
Pukerau 4WD Ltd was a registered ‘Small Passenger Service Operator’, licensed to provide 4WD hill country safari tourist trips. Its Land Rover 110 County was certified to carry passengers on 4WD trips, with a maximum of eight passengers with light snacks on morning or afternoon trips. An optimal number of up to six passengers with a picnic lunch is recommended for day trips.
Over the last few years I have been involved with
- three Land Rover client days run by Archibald & Shorter at the Orere River;
- a Holden Rodeo dealership launch here at the farm;
- a GM Premium Hummer H3 dealership launch from the Orere River over the hills to here at the farm;
- Kia SUV days (client and dealers) here and at Pencarrow Head, entrance to Wellington Harbour;
- Blue Wing Honda ATV and bike media launch here, January 2009.
- Skoda Yeti (dealership and media) launch here, February 2010.
- Subaru events (3) for lease fleet companies, dealership, and film crew spread through 2012.
- Nissan Patrol dealership launch day in February 2013.
- Four NZ 4WD Magazine’s 4WD vehicle comparison days here; one ‘Wagons to Waiouru’; one at Extreme 4X4 Park; and one at Jeep Woodhill 4WD Park.
These included over 35 models of different makes:
Subaru Outback, XV & Legacy; Ford Escape; Holden Captiva; Hyundai Santa Fe & Tucson; Kia Sorento & Sportage; Toyota Prado & RAV4; Jeep Grand Cherokee, Cherokee & Wrangler; Ssangyong Kyron; Nissan Patrol, Pathfinder & X-trail; Suzuki Grand Vitara; Land Rover Freelander & Defender 90; Mitsubishi Pajero; VW Tiguan; Peugeot 4008; Renault Koleos; and the utes Holden Rodeo & Colorado; Toyota Hilux; Mitsubishi Triton; Nissan Navara; Ford Ranger; Mazda BT-50; Isuzu D-Max; Ssangyong Actyon; VW Amarok.
- NZ Autocar vehicle comparison here in the February 2008 issue, between the Jeep Wrangler and the Land Rover Defender 90.
- Non-competitive winch recovery days, with approximately 20 winch recovery scenarios available here from basic through individual technical to team situations.
When the road to Kawakawa Bay was closed for five weeks (August – September, 2008), Manukau City Council set up a 4WD shuttle track up behind the slip. In the three weeks that the shuttle operated, I drove the one-kilometre track approximately 1,350 times; the equivalent drive of Auckland to Wellington and back.