When it comes to four wheel drives the ubiquitous Toyota Land Cruiser has been around for 60 years, and the Prado variant for the last twenty.
A challenging weekend awaited the organisers as it coincided with the "weather bomb" that dealt a torrid weekend to the central North Island on March 3-4.
The Lions Club in conjunction with some very obliging station managers, made sure the 84 vehicles and 317 participants got around and saw as much of these scenic large-scale operations as possible, given the wet and bitingly cold conditions.
The temperature readout on my vehicle never got above 9C all weekend.
The tour was based at Ohinewairua and Erewhon Stations where people were camped, fed and watered well, with great sponsorship secured for the lunches and dinner, a highlight being the superb Angus Pure steaks.
Richard Rowe of the Merchiston Angus Stud who sponsored the meat said: "It was an ideal opportunity to promote the Angus Pure brand and in a great location. And the Lions cooks did a great job on the barbeques." This reporter's steak was superb.
The trek started at Ohinewairua and, due to the weather, the route took in well formed tracks and covered some of the 2000ha of easy country of Otupae, on to Mangaohane, Black Hill and the slightly tricky climb out to the Kelly Land Company then proceeding on through Springvale Station, capping off the first day.
The scenery was magnificent, even through the mist and rain. It was a real eye opener, seeing the contrasts in country ranging in altitude from 450m to 1100m above sea level.
What did concern many of the mainly farming types on the trip was the number of very cold looking recently shorn sheep suffering in the unseasonal polar blast.
Another interesting fact was that all the visited properties were run by managers, with no owners living in the area.
Otupae and Ohine are owned by descendants of H.B. Williams of Gisborne fame, Mangoahane by the Bull family of Hunterville, and Erewhon and Springvale by the Spencer family.
It gives them somewhere to try out the new Blue Wing Honda gear!
One hopes the extensive history and many anecdotal stories of the area are not lost.
The second day saw an improvement in the weather, and the trip was able to take in the 4900ha Erewhon Station and a significant amount of the 7500ha (5500ha effective) Ohinewairua property.
Running 30,000 s.u. and with nearly 1000ha in spectacular looking crop, we were led around and informed by long-time manager Mark Haines. With stunning scenery and views becoming evident as the fog and cloud lifted, it was picture perfect. Kaimanawa horses could be seen in the distance and good looking stock enjoying the abundant feed this season.
The crew saved the best until last taking us to the top of a very prominent rim rock at just over 1000m. With the weather cleared; everyone was absolutely taken with the amazing panorama that unfolded in front of us all. It was a great finale to a memorable weekend.
As a footnote, the organisers are planning a Beach to Beach from Wanganui through to Waipawa in February 2013 over four days, which will take in much of this country as it traverses the island in support of the rescue helicopter and others.