Far North Adventures: 4WD Missions

by Melissa on February 16, 2012 · 2 comments

Since moving up to the beautiful Far North of New Zealand in December, I have found that beyond it’s beauty, it’s a place that allows you to create your own adventures.  In this new series, I’m going to take a look at different activities and opportunities to create your own fun that the Far North offers, because it truly is a very special place in the world.  The first installment in this series is about the 4WD culture.

One hot and sunny afternoon I had received a text message from one of my close friends asking me if I would like to join him and a few of his friends as they took out their monstrous 4WD trucks over the gumfields and sand dunes close to my house.  Not to be one to turn down an invitation, I rounded up two of my flatmates, some beers and before we knew it, we were barreling up a winding gravel road, inevitably leading to some of the known tracks used by 4WD enthusiasts and quad bike tour companies.

The bouncy drive through the uneven terrain was made complete not only by the box of beer, which we happily consumed while we weren’t too busy protecting them from bubbling up, but by the spectacular scenery that much of the Far North has to offer.  We navigated our way through narrow dirt paths in our beastly convoy– a massive Nissan Safari and not quite as big but very powerful Mitsubishi Pajero. Brittle twigs snapped and larger branches scraped the sides of our windows as we careened through the rough tree-lined paths.  We bounded up bumpy hills and flew down the other side, sometimes through giant mud puddles, which covered the entire vehicle.  4WDing is just a touch less civilized than your average grandmother’s tea party.

Some of the funniest moments were when our carefree drivers would take the ‘man way’ (the more challenging route) hard and fast, and would inevitably get stuck.  In two instances the giant Safari got stuck in mud that was as high as the bottom on the door!  Thank goodness for the Pajero being able to help pull us out!  We also had some fun times trying to clamber up hills that seemed as if they were close to 90 degree angles!  Of course this fun an excitement was only heightened by our own personal rule that we could only use the ‘oh shit’ handles, and no seat belts (don’t try this at home – or anywhere else for that matter… always wear your seat belts people!).

All in all it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours with friends on what would otherwise be a usual quiet evening in.  We bounded through the rocky terrain of the gumfields, raced and winded our way down the massive sand dunes of Tanutanu and along the beaches of the Far North’s untouched west coast.   Up here in the Far North you can’t seem to get away from the 4WD culture.  It seems everyone either has one or knows somebody who has a truck and the possibilities for finding things to do are endless- whether it’s trekking through the gumfields and sand dunes or zipping down famous 90 Mile Beach, or simply taking roads less travelled.  If you find yourself up here in the stunning ‘winterless north’ try to find a local with a 4WD who’s willing to take you out on your own 4WD mission- and if all else fails, rock up to one of the many quad bike tour companies and take one of their tours!
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam February 17, 2012 at 4:57 am

I'd never really heard of that as a culture in NZ, but I look forward to finding it when I get back. Sounds fun to do once or twice, but probably not a regular thing for me. We recently had fun 4WD'ing in Utah, US – another place with a 4WD culture.

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C.W. Bush February 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm

The man way is the only way, dammit!

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