Motoring fun beyond the wheel

By David Thomson on Sat, 19 Aug 2017

New Zealand is internationally known as a great destination for motoring fun, so it should not come as any surprise to find this country over-represented in listings of the world's great drives.

Such things regularly appear online these days, but the latest I have seen came, refreshingly, in analogue form, courtesy of travel publishing specialist Lonely Planet.

Published this year, Epic Drives of the World is a full-colour 328-page hardcover book, which majors in a selection of 50 of the world's great driving routes. A further 150 second-tier great drives are also covered.

New Zealand snares two of the main drives: one is a circular tour of Northland, while the second - called the Southern Alps Explorer - runs from Christchurch to Hokitika, down the West Coast to Wanaka and then Queenstown, and then heads north to Mt Cook. A fabulous South Island drive, beyond any shadow of a doubt.

This country also features as the venue for nine of the second-tier drives. These include a Central Otago wine trail drive, a southern scenic loop from Dunedin to Invercargill via the Catlins and on to Te Anau, plus a separate drive from Te Anau to Milford.

Flicking through the book on a quiet evening, I was able to tick off all of the New Zealand drives as routes I have traversed by car. I was also delighted find another half-dozen drives in the top 50 from elsewhere in the world I have completed, as well as more than a dozen more of the second-tier routes.

Adding it all up, I got to the grand total of 29 routes completed. That means only 171 to go, a fact that provides plenty of food for thought as I ponder future overseas holidays.

Just as reflecting on great drives you have done and planning others you might wish to do can fill in time in a pleasant way, so can collecting cars on a miniature scale.

If you are interested (or even merely curious) about model cars, then do not forget that the model vehicle expo running in the Dunedin Community Gallery in Princes St concludes at 8pm tonight. More than 1000 miniature vehicles are on show at the gallery, with a particular focus on the products of Ford and Holden's Australian factories.

Although I do not collect them myself, I am a bit of a fan of model cars, as my father has been a steady collector since his childhood days. His favoured scale of 1:43 life size goes back to the original Dinky diecasts that first appeared in the 1930s.

The most impressive cars on display in town are in larger scales such as 1:18, which allow for a much greater degree of engineering detail. Look, admire, and even ask questions. But whatever you do, please do not insult proud owners by referring to their miniature cars as toys!

David Thomson