For any petrol heads who wish for some good old days of touring car thrills, New Zealand is a driver’s dream. Just recently I had the opportunity to travel around Northland and the roads are wonderful.
By that I mean they are perfect for an E-Type Jag or any other stick-shift touring car with a responsive engine and a stable chassis. The photo (right) shows the unspoilt nature of many areas in Northland.
The long, sweeping curves on the roads are excellent for the pure enjoyment of man and machine, while the long, undulating straights provide refreshing glimpses of vibrant and ever-colourful scenery. The second photo (below) looks amazing but there are many “million-dollar” bays just like this all around New Zealand.
When you reach a section of road that winds up or down a hill – or even near-mountain – car and driver have opportunities to shine. You can “power drive” through the twisting, sometimes sharp corners. I would never suggest that you “power drift” or “power slide” into those corners, but the temptation is certainly there!
Another feature on many roads in NZ is the blind rise, with the ever-present question of “what will the road do next?” Will it gently curve to left or right, or will a sudden decline be followed by a hairpin?
The gears become the stars as you find the need to decelarate from 100 km/hr down to 35, sometimes in a split second if a sharp corner has not been sign-posted in advance.
There are also many occasions when the two-way highway reduces down to one lane for a narrow bridge, and you discover if you will have right-of-way or the opposing car.
Gears and engine need to be in perfect sync to slow, check, sweep around a curve onto the bridge, and then accelerate away on the other side. There are so many examples of this type of driving pleasure available that it would take a long book to explain them all (and maybe that’s a travel book for later).
If you have a passion for the type of driving that can now be a rare opportunity in Europe or America, head on down to New Zealand for some old-school auto enjoyment.