Zuki Central 2014 was a 4WD event for Suzuki vehicles with low ratio, held to raise funds for RONALD McDONALD HOUSE. Regular contributor Murray Taylor was one of the guides and leaders of the trip, and shared his story with us.
We think it was good enough for a “Throwback Thursday”
It’s almost kick off time for the event, for which I have spent the last 6 months building a Suzuki Samurai 1989 model into a pocket version of the Whale or, a better term, a Quad on steroids.
The build entailed a lift of 50mm, needed for the 32” tyres. A reverse spring mount on the front axle, using home made front towers, bolted through the original spring mounts, with spacers and a 4mm walled tube, enabled 16mm rod to tie the complete front together. They also tied into the winch plate, winch and front recovery hooks along with the A frame mounts.
The rear of the front spring was mounted using a bell shaped hanger mount, which required a small redesign, being a solid mount in the top and not rubber bushes.
The rear spring had extended shackle hangers at the rear, and a new front mount box fabricated to fit over the existing mount, located and bolted through the original spring mount.
The vehicle uses the original springs and shock absorbers, the shocks have extended mounts on the bottom so as to retain original operating length.
The other major modification was a disk brake installation on the rear axle. For that I used front rotors from a 413 with the centres cut out of the disks to make the mount for the rotors using the studs from the front axle.
The actual caliper is from a Nissan Pulsar ( P10) with my own design mounting bracket. The only drawback is that to bleed the brakes you have to unbolt the caliper to get the bleed nipple to the top.
It all worked, and passed both the certification requirements and Warrant of Fitness, with just a tidy up of the brake lines, and await the certification plate.
By Wednesday the plate had arrived, a quick trip up to Pahiatua, to get it fitted, the WOF issued and get it registered, I must recognise and thank CHEERS Certification and Rowden Automotive for all their assistance and help.
Thursday and we are on the way, the “Little Whale” in tow as we head for Wellington’s Harcourt Holiday Park, our home for the next 4 days. The tent is pitched and its still raining, vehicle’s unpacked and its time to do that last minute shopping before the kick off tomorrow morning.
The “Little Whale” is refuelled, (forgot how expensive petrol is) and only thing left is to pack the items needed for tomorrows trip and its all go.
Friday up early, breakfast and then its down to Park Lane for registration and vehicle inspection before the days trip, which is due to start at 1pm from Oharua Bay Park.
A driver briefing is held once registration has been completed and then a convoy of Suzukis, from a 1981 LJ89 to a 2013 Vitara leave around 11.45 for the trip through Upper Hutt and out onto the Hutt Motor Way for a cruise into Wellington through the terrace tunnel heading for Owhiro Bay and the parking area before the sports grounds.
The vehicles all assembled as this was to be a trip involving all entrants. Barry our guide for the day, give a safety brief about the area we would be going through and also the privilege our club had in being able to run trips through the area, with the co-operation of Wellington City Council.
So it was up and away with Barry in the lead to open the first gate into Te Kopahu and our first climb to get above the city rubbish dump. The track climbs up before dropping down into a small creek to climb and drop again before climbing to enter Long Gully Station.
Along the way are views of Wellington Harbour to the north and down over the edge to the South Coast Track. Two gates later we enter Long Gully for the trip down the farm track to the Second Karaka Bay and our entry onto the South Coast.
Half way down the hill we stop to admire the view from the Anchor above long beach and the track along the beach, which we are to drive in the very near future.
During this stage ‘Little Whale” lost its brakes, needed lots of pedal pumping to get a reaction, so the down hill was on the gears. Fortunately the last item to be changed (Wednesday Night) was installing a Rock Lobster transfer case, which doubled the gear reduction in the transfer case, and made for great control on the down hills.
Once on the beach it was a quick run along the sand to Karori Stream, which was in flood, so after deciding that crossing was maybe not a good idea we headed for Devils gate and Red Rocks. The trip was handled by one and all with a guide on Devils gate to ensure no mishaps, and that we did not meet another vehicle head on, as being Easter Friday they was a reasonable amount of traffic about.
We finished the day at Barry’s bach with a BBQ and time for everyone to catch up.
The Evening came about very fast as we packed and headed to the quarry, to pump up tyres for the Road trip back to Harcourt Park.
After some rain during the night Saturday morning was overcast as we assembled in the car park out side Harcout Park into our three different groups, Shiny, Zooks and Z force.
Today I was leader to the Shiny group, 8 vehicles in total as we headed into the Akatarawa Forest via Totara Park gate. It was down and through the gate, lower our tyres and I gave another safety brief about the forest, what to expect and answered a few questions.
Then we headed of with Rolf, CCVC’s past president in the lead and my self as tail end, through Valley View Road to its junction with McGhies Road before stopping at McGhies bridge to unlock the gate.
Once through and across the bridge we headed along to 3rd Crossing for a brief stop and stretch, before crossing through the river, which was lower than expected, to begin our climb up The Pram Track to the top.
There was a bit of mud about the place, but the track’s in great condition, as we head down to Dopers Creek, before turning left to Long Crossing to cross the Whakatikei River and head up Rimu Road to the ridge top, up to the high point under a power pylon for a photo stop.
We hear on the radio that the “Zoo Force” are running behind as a member had laid his truck on its side exiting Clarks Creek track, which took a while to recover, so we will meet up with them all at Orange Hut for lunch, after a brief stop to show everyone a very old log bridge built in the days when the forest was first being developed.
After lunch in the sunshine we headed back over the Pram Track, this time with a left turn after 3rd crossing, up the Hukinga Road, Cedarholm Creek and finally along Deadwood Ridge Track to its end.
A brief stop for afternoon tea in the parking area at the end, while some walked down the track to look at the top of the infamous Rock Garden, then we returned along the track, with a stop at the recently uncovered crashed plane ( around 1951) before heading back to Totara Park Gate arriving around 3.30, to pump our tyres up and head for home / camp for the night, the other two groups came out of the forest not long after.
The rain came again during the night, and as Sunday was an early start from the camp, it was up early to meet at the car park, before heading in convoy for Coast Road and the Orogoronga River.
Arriving at the parking area on the coast we lowered tyres again, while the Zooks headed up the Airstrip Track with a little difficulty, I took the shiny vehicles along the road and into Orongoronga Station and headed up the river to a point opposite where the Zook’s would come down the track into the river valley.
We had morning tea as we listened to their progress on the radio, before spotting them on the track opposite. The river was not crossable so they lined up on the other side, had morning tea before returning the way they had come.
We continued on our way up the river track till stopped by a stream that had washed the track completely out. It was crossable, but not with AT’s so we headed down stream to the Clubs, training area for lunch and play, catching up with the Zook’s at the same time.
After lunch we all traveled as a group heading around the coast past Turakirae head, and Barney’s Whare, before being stopped by the large shingle fan of Kotumu Stream, which, with the recent heavy rains was well washed out.
Turning around we headed back to Turakirae head, to stop and look at the local Seal population, which was up on the beach with some playing in the sea. We also found a couple of well dead specimens in the seaweed on the beach.
As it was looking to rain we headed for the gate, pumped up tyres and headed for Home. Tonight was dinner and presentation of prizes to those who had participated in this Zuki Central 2014.
The dinner was at a local restaurant in Upper Hutt, Curry Workz, which put on a great spread and put up with us all.
A great thanks to all our sponsors for the great selection of giveaways which made the night, and gave the participants something to take away, and a memory of the weekend.
Monday, it was all on again, but not having any Shiny trucks to lead, and no I had not destroyed or caused them to have any damage. They had all taken the opportunity to spend the day travelling home, so “Little Whale” and I joined the Zook force as tail end for the days run through the forest.
This was along Valley View Road, with a detour down a side track, plenty of gorse and a steep descent, to rejoin the main track.
Heading over The Pram Track, and up Whakatikei Road, we came to what’s called the manufacturers challenge area, for some technical driving through a creek and around the pine trees.
We then headed for the causeway, meeting the Z force trucks heading into Manufactures Challenge as we turned right to head for the Fence line track
This was a first for me as I had always done it from the opposite direction. It was a great little climb, second gear, just over idle and up the Zuk went all the way to the top of the ridge.
Lunch time was spent in the sun, with a great view over Paraparaumu and out to Kapiti Island, with the Z force trucks arriving from up through the forest.
After lunch we headed into the forest along the muddy tracks , bypassing the real deep bogs before existing by the pylon, then down “the slide” and out to Whakatikei Road the Pram track heading for the exit.
As the Zook force had not done Deadwood ridge, it was added in along the way, before th exit at Totara Park Gate.
Back to camp and pack up, connect the “A” frame and it’s really all over, for two years in the North Island.
Zuki Central a great Easter with Suzuki 4wd trucks from around the country, the proceeds of the event are going to Ronald McDonald House, in Wellington a great cause.
We thank all who attended, the sponsors (too many to name, and I would miss one), the organizers, CCVC as the parent club, and most of all, the land owners, be it private or council which without who we would not have an event.
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Land Access is a Privilege.
Look for Zuki again: The south island 2015, and in the North 2016.