Two weekends ago I happened to be up north, as Auckland celebrated its equivalent of Otago Anniversary weekend.
Cue for a major dose of motoring frustration, as a fair proportion of our so-called supercity's population headed out of town. Bound for Mount Maunganui on the Friday, and returning on the Monday, I dodged the worst of it through leaving mid-afternoon Friday, and returning mid-afternoon Monday.
Even so, the first hour escaping Auckland was spent in a motorway crawl so slow that it took an hour to cover the initial 20km south. Traffic was heavy but steady-flowing from then on, meaning that the trip to the Mount took close to four hours, which was an hour and twenty minutes longer than usual. The return journey was smoother, but still half an hour longer than usual, with much of the ‘‘extra'' time spent in a snarl-up before we even made it as far as the Bombay Hills, and the rest due to heavy traffic volumes on Auckland's Southern Motorway.
Not the most patient driver in slow traffic, I sought to reduce my stress levels by employing the same laid-back attitude adopted by the majority of van drivers we used during our recent family trip to Sri Lanka. My efforts were a partial success at best, and come Waitangi weekend - when it was Wellington's turn to suffer major traffic delays - what a joy it was to be back motoring on lower South Island roads.
A Saturday morning run from Dunedin to Kaka Point and on to Clyde mid-afternoon was, predictably, congestion-free. So too was our late-afternoon return home from Clyde, via the Pigroot. All in all, a timely reminder of just how lucky are we motorists who live in this wonderful part of New Zealand!
This weekend, incidentally, is a big one for Kiwi motorsport.
In Europe, Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will look to put the tragic event of last month's Monte Carlo Rally behind them as they tackle round two of the WRC in Sweden.
Closer to home, the Manfeild circuit in the Manawatu hosts the 62nd New Zealand Grand Prix. Manfeild was recently renamed in honour of Kiwi racing great and Manawatu local Chris Amon, who passed away last year. This year's grand prix will be a celebration of Amon's life and racing achievements and Amon's former Ferrari F1 team mate, Jacky Ickx, is the special guest.
Drivesouth contributor Richard Bosselman has been a driving force behind the Amon celebrations (which will also raise funds to support promising young Kiwi racers develop to their full potential), and I wish him all the best for a memorable weekend.
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