Hey guys. Come join me on a ride with Steve Richards, a contractor for food producer Goodman Fielder. We went on a trip from Christchurch, over the Southern Alps, to Greymouth.

We met Steve and his Scania R650, paint- ed in the blue and white Molenberg bread colours, in the Christchurch suburb of Harewood.

Steve explained the refrigerated bodies on both the truck and trailer were loaded with a variety of bread, milk and other food products destined for Greymouth, and a few other destinations on the way.

If the truck and trailer were fully loaded with just crates of bread, it would hold around 16200 loaves, that’s a lot of sandwiches!

I climbed into the leather, air-suspended, very comfortable passenger’s seat and checked out the inside of the Scania’s cab, which has a TV, microwave, neat overhead storage cupboards at the back of the cab and a very cool Scania sign on the back wall that lights up.

Alongside the Waimakariri River

We rolled out of the city and up Old West Coast Road before joining State Highway 73 (the main road to the West Coast) at the small settlement of Waddington.

Porter’s Pass is the first major hill on the road through the Southern Alps, Steve explained that the weather through the Alps can change in condition from sunny and warm to snowing and cold very quickly.

A set of special chains, which can be fitted to the Scania’s rear tyres are carried in one of the toolboxes, if the truck encounters snow or ice, these can be fitted, to allow the truck to travel safely.

He said I could have a go at putting one of the tyre chains on once we arrived in Greymouth.

Our first delivery was at the Wilderness Lodge between Cass and the Arthur’s Pass Village, where we were met by Mike and his daughters Jean and Olive, who come down to see Steve with their Dad each time he delivers there.

We took some photographs and I gave the girls a copy of the latest issue of Little Trucker Down Under before saying our farewells.

A little further along State Highway 73 is the Bealey Hotel; we had a brief stop here and I was able to admire the large ornamental moa sculpture in the carpark.

Arthur’s Pass Village was our next delivery stop. We unhooked the trailer opposite the railway station and headed down to the café, where Steve drove the truck around the building and reversed towards the delivery entrance.

Some crates of bread were unloaded here and while we were doing this, a few of the noisy ‘locals’ came to see what was happening – and not the humankind.

Arthur’s Pass is famous for the beautiful – but very mischievous – keas, the native parrot of Aotearoa.

Fitting the snow chains
All ready for the snow and ice

The birds are notorious for their knack of stealing things; car keys, wallets, food drinks and sunglasses are common items of interest to the light-beaked, New Zealand native birds.

With the trailer re-connected it was back on the road, we climbed to the top of Arthur’s Pass, the highest point on State Highway 73, and I saw the remains of some snow that had fallen earlier in the week.

It’s all downhill from there. We went down what is known as ‘Peg Leg’, a very steep piece of road that leads onto the well-known Otira Viaduct, a massive concrete bridge that towers 40 metres above the Otira River.

We drove under a spectacular concrete chute that towers above the road and stops the water from Reid Falls washing the road away, then through the Rock Shelter, another concrete tunnel-like structure that protects passing vehicles from falling rocks.

After spending about 45 minutes cruising west with the Taramakau River at our side, we reached Kumara Junction and turned right towards Greymouth.

Upon arrival at the depot, Steve reversed the Scania into the unloading bay and adjusted a large steel ramp, ensuring a nice fit between the building and the rear of the truck.

Now the real work began. Stacks of bread and pallets with milk and other food products were moved from the truck into the building using a pair of special hand trolleys that looked like very hard work.

Steve with Olive and Jean outside the Wilderness Lodge
Large moa sculpture at the Bealey Hotel

A team of people would arrive soon after we left to sort and package the various products into orders, which would then be delivered to the supermarkets, stores and cafés by a fleet of smaller trucks.

Outside the depot Steve got a set of snow chains out of the toolbox and explained how they are fitted to the truck wheels. He handed me a pair of gloves and I had a go at fitting them to the tyres. This was quite awkward, but with a little bit of help from Steve, I got them on. It was great to have a go at something a little different.

We put the chains away and I said goodbye to Steve and his very cool Scania. Dad picked me up and we travelled back across the Southern Alps towards Christchurch, and I was able to take some video of the Scania among the West Coast scenery. I will share this to the New Zealand Trucking Media YouTube page so you can all enjoy it.

This will be my last issue before Christmas and the end of the year, so I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with your family and friends!