Ruby's best trucking adventure

So last year about July, we decided it was time to start getting the Ultraliner ready for the 50 Years of Mack show. My whole family and I (Mum, Reece and my sister Lucy) spent many hours down at the truck yard polishing wheels, bumpers, the diesel tank and so much more.

The old girl then went for a quick trip to Dunedin where Terry at Custom Signs tidied up the sign writing. Reece told me he was going to get my name on the passenger door. I didn’t believe him, until he sent me a photo. Oh my gosh, how cool is this!!!

So in September Reece and I hit the road. We left home in Balclutha and were heading to Tauranga. We picked up some bulls in Hawarden and headed to Picton. We had three hours to wait in Picton so we had a short sleep in the cab. Then at 1am we drove onto the big ferry ramp. First time I’d been on the ferry!! Once we parked the truck we headed to our room for some sleep.

Nearly four hours later we arrived in Wellington. Once we got the truck off the ferry we headed up the road to the Matamau Diner for breakfast. They have walls of truck photos, it’s awesome! After we left the diner we headed up the road to Hastings where we unloaded the bulls to their new home.

After unloading we headed to Taupō, which is another three hours up the road. We stayed in Taupō that night, and the next morning we carried on up the way to Tauranga. We dropped our truck off where they repaired and painted the crate.

We then got a hire car and headed to the Waikato to do some soil testing on a farm for my step dad’s other business, Highland Nutrition. Check out the photo of me holding the impressive clover and plantain.

Once we’d finished soil testing we drove to the airport and flew back home.

50 Years of Mack Truck Show

Thursday 20 October
Reece and I got up super early, drove to the airport and flew to Tauranga to pick up our freshly painted truck. Only to arrive there and find the signwriting hadn’t been done. Our stomachs dropped to our feets, this was a nightmare! After a lot of stress and some fast phone calls, Cliff and the guys at Sign Art did us a massive favour and got the crate signwritten for us. Wahoo!

Friday 21 October
Mum and my sister Lucy flew from Dunedin to Palmerston North to meet us. Reece and I got in the truck and drove down to Palmerston North. We all arrived around dinner time and settled into our motel for an early night.

Saturday 22 October
We had another early start. Today is SHOW DAY!! We had to head to Motor Truck Distributors where all the trucks met, so we could travel to the show in convoy.

It was a massive convoy with around 180 trucks. We drove to the Manfield Raceway where the parade was held. There were around 200 trucks there. It was amazing! All Macks, all shining, all so cool!

When the parade was over we went back to the motel to get ready for the dinner and speeches. I was getting tired so I sat in the corner and did some sketching. Glenn and Julie Allingham from Jaks Trucks were the owners of the winning truck.

The next day Mum and Lucy flew home. Reece and I went to Felding saleyards for a photoshoot. The following day we cruised around Palmerston North and for a look through the Motor Truck Distributors workshop where the Macks used to be built. We caught up with National Sales manager Stu Wynd.

Then headed to Bulls for the next day’s work.

This was a super early start. We carted heifers to the port of Nelson for a live export. I had a few naps throughout the day.

We stayed in Levin for the night then went back on the ferry the next morning. We then picked up calves and took them to Culverden. The following morning we loaded steers at Scargill and took them to Makikihi.

Next, we’re homeward bound… PHEW!! What an epic trip.


Truckies pulls through for birthday boy Ollie

Here at Little Trucker Down Under, we love how much all our mates love trucks! And we think that all of the amazing people in our trucking community are the very best part of this industry (well, except for the trucks!). The heart and kindness of our trucking community was really put on show recently, when everyone came together to celebrate the birthday of seven-year-old Ollie Johnson in Hamilton.

Ollie’s parents had posted on Facebook asking for a truck ride for truck-obsessed Ollie to help celebrate his birthday. But the sector came through with no less than 64 trucks answering their call.

Ollie’s mother had offered $50 to anyone willing to take her son for a ride in their truck for his birthday. She said Ollie was feeling lonely and hoped a ride in a truck would cheer him up.

“All he wants to do is be a truck driver. He is just obsessed,” she says.

After seeing the post, Hart Haulage owner Barry Hart thought he could do better than just one truck ride, and began planning a truck convoy just for Ollie.

Barry put a call out on social media and 64 drivers turned up for Ollie’s birthday convoy.

“It’s the norm for truckers and our industry. It’s why we love this industry,” Barry says. Some truckers travelled more than 120km in their big rigs to take part.

“For all the guys to come along, it’s pretty cool,” Barry says.

The convoy grouped and started from the Hart Haulage yard near Huntington in Hamilton. It ran down the Waikato Expressway to Hautapu, finishing up at the yards of C&R Developments.

C&R Developments opened up its car and machinery museum for everyone to enjoy, while Service Foods Ltd provided hot food and cold beverages via a food truck stall for the crowds that were there.

There were approximately 250 to 300 people at the event.

Mum Katherine, who put up the original Facebook post, says Ollie was brought up around trucks.

“We are so grateful. This story has gone around the world, we are so humbled,” she says.

Dad Simon said the industry really came together.

“Thank you doesn’t cover what happened today,” he says.

“A lot of people have gone to a lot of effort to make today happen, and it’s those people who couldn’t be here who have helped us along the way, we really want to say thank you.

“And thank you to Hart Haulage, who has been on the same page the whole journey, we are just so grateful.”

And Ollie’s favourite truck of the show? A C509 Kenworth. He even had a go at blasting the horn.

Happy birthday Ollie, from all your friends at Little Trucker Down Under.


Billy's bulldozer

Dustin heads out with Billy to pick up a new bulldozer

Name: Dustin
Age: 13
From: Hawarden, North Canterbury
Can be found in a: K200

One overcast afternoon I got a call from Billy Lott of Lott Contracting, a company started by Billy’s dad in 1957.

He was getting ready to go pick up his new bulldozer. He picked me up on the way in, we got to Rolleston and went to the John Deere dealership.


We went around the back, and there it was waiting for us. It looked really cool. We loaded it up, and got on the road, with a pilot vehicle driving in front of us. We had all the flashing lights on.

We were heading for home and had just got off the motorway when the truck cut out, and then the ABS fell out of the trailer and they were sparking, so we lost the power in the truck.

We got it all fixed and then carried on, and when we got to Amberley we stopped and had a pie. Billy’s favourite pie shop is Wakefield Bakery – Billy loves pies!

We got back to the yard at midnight, so we went home and went to bed. In the morning, we unloaded the bulldozer, and then we had to fix some small oil leaks.

About to head out onto the road

After we loaded up the bulldozer, we took it to its first job. We dropped it off then went back to the yard and dropped off the truck.

The bulldozer weighed 28 tonnes. Billy’s dad Dave is 92 years old and still drives bulldozers. Billy got his bull bar custom made from Whites Bull Bars in Melbourne, Australia.

Thanks to everyone at Lott Contracting for making my time there very enjoyable.

The Scania transports the bulldozer
The truck and bulldozer looking stunning

Off for a ride

Our mate Jacob is a member of Team Quality Supertruck Racing, who recently took part at a Thunder Down Under racing event in Timaru. Jacob takes people on trips in his own little truck – and donates the money he receives to help animals!

On the Friday of the racing at Timaru, I cleaned my truck to get it ready for rides. I take kids for rides in my truck and all the money I get, I get to give it to the SPCA because I like to help animals.

I have 21 chickens and four sheep and a dog called Carly.

When I was doing rides, there was a policeman. He pulled me over and asked me for my drivers licence. Sorry Mr Policeman, I don’t have a licence but I am a really good driver – and I don’t drive my little truck on the road! He said I am a fantastic driver.

Jacob loves animals and donating to the SPCA

When my dad comes in off the truck, I get him a drink and give it to him when the truck is parked. I also love helping my grandad clean the BBQ and get it ready for making dinner.

The racing was at the Levels International Raceway in Timaru. My dad came third in the race – I am so proud of him.

Our whole team raced for Carl Gibson, who recently passed away. He drove the L&P truck that towed the race truck, the Panther, to all of the meetings. I miss him, he was my friend.

When all the racing was finished, my friend Payton asked all the super trucking drivers to get in my little truck and I took them all for a ride. I think the truck was a bit overloaded!

Come along to a meeting sometime and I’ll take you for a ride!


Top drive in New Zealand

There are some pretty epic drives all around New Zealand and Australia. We talk to Robbie Lilburn, managing director at Lilburn Transport, about his favourite drive in New Zealand.

What is your favourite drive?

The Napier-Taihape Road.

Where does it start and where does it finish?

The road starts at the top of Taihape Deviation and comes out at Omahu, Hastings.

What are some highlights of the journey?

The challenges from start to finish, the narrow bits, the steep climbs, sharp corners and the scenery.

How long does it take?

The drive takes around four hours, depending on road conditions.


Logged and loaded

Dustin heads out on a logging truck with his mates at Steve Murphy Limited, a transport company in Canterbury.

Name: Dustin
Age: 13
From: Hawarden, North Canterbury
Can be found in a: K200

One spring afternoon, I jumped in a K200 logging truck with Steve James from Steve Murphy Limited (SML) and headed for Greta Valley, North Canterbury, 83km north of Christchurch.

We got to the skid site and loaded up. It was cool how the digger loaded the logs on the truck. We threw some chains on then went down the hill. Then we got on the road and headed for Belfast. When we got to Stoneyhurst Sawmilling in Belfast, we took the chains off the logs and unloaded.

We headed back to the yard. When we got back, there was a Mack Super-Liner going to get picked up so I went with a man named Bert to pick it up.

My favorite part about the K200 is the bull bar – it’s Steve’s favorite part too.

“The Kenworth K200 has more grunt than a wild pig,” Steve says.

Steve Murphy Limited

There are 48 trucks in the SML fleet. Steve says it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I’m lucky to know Jake Terrell & Will Cowens that work at SML, they are family friends and I look up to them. I hope to work at SML one day.

Big thanks to Chris and Steve Murphy who own SML for letting me go in their trucks. And thanks to Steve James for looking after me for the day, and to Jake and Will for organising it for me.


A big day out with Pop

Ezra and his brother Kyen love seeing their Pop in his big, turquoise truck.

Name: Ezra
Age: 7
Can be found in a: Mercedes-Benz

Hi my name is Ezra, I am 7 years old and my brother’s name is Kyen, he is 2½ years old.

Over the holidays, my Pop, Wayne, took us for a ride in his truck. My dad, Shane, came too. My Pop’s truck is a Mercedes-Benz, it has 600+ horsepower – wow! The colour of his truck is turquoise.

We drove the truck from the truck yard, over the motorway, and back again to the yard. We saw lots of diggers and other trucks in the yard too. When we were driving in the truck, we waved at the other truck drivers.

I really liked being in my Pop’s truck because you are so high up compared to the cars. The cars look so small. My little brother Kyen made lots of noises in the truck because he was so excited. He loves trucks and enjoys playing with them at home too. It was such a fun day going out on my Pop’s truck and I think he is a great truck driver.


NOT-SO 'STOCK' UNITS

Perfect replica diecast models of iconic Kiwi nine-axle stock units – who could have thought? This month, we drop in and meet those who did imagine, and have now made them a reality.

For an eternity, diecast model-truck collectors countrywide have dreamt of a manufacturer that could make accurate representations of the typical Kiwi rigs we see on our highways. Well, that wait is over. Our good friends at Model Barn, outside of Thames, have been extremely busy resolving this gap in the market. After many years of research, Model Barn’s director Jeremy Welsh is proud to reveal the company’s pet project is nearing completion.

Arriving at the Orongo Road retail store it’s impossible to miss the pair of FH Volvo Globetrotters sitting proudly in a display cabinet front and centre. We find ourselves staring in awe of the two pre-production blanks. First impressions of the 1:64th-scale Globetrotters are the accuracy of the finer details. At this scale, many manufacturers will skim over the finer points. But it is not the case here. From the spotlights to the signwriting and scrolls, the team has captured the essence of the life-sized rigs from every angle.

Jeremy explains that the vision behind ‘Kiwi Replicas’ was to provide the market with model trucks that accurately depict the unique configurations found in New Zealand. “There are plenty of trucks out there that we get from Australia. They are great; they are right-hand-drive, so they are similar, but the trailers are not the same.

“There are also plenty of trucks available from Europe and America, but they are all left-hand-drive, so I wanted to make something that was uniquely New Zealand. The four-axle truck with five-axle trailer combination that we see here was what I wanted to build.”

The choice to base the first builds on the Volvo Globetrotter was assisted by Jeremy’s project manager, who had worked with Volvo previously on another project. The FH Globetrotter is also a common weapon of choice with many livestock operators, ensuring no shortage of candidates for the future.

The first two cabs off the rank for Kiwi Replicas are ‘Miss Stacey Jade’, an FH750 belonging to the local Thames Valley fleet of Graeme Wright General Carriers in Puriri, and ‘The Swedish Palace’ FH700 of Transport Services Ltd (TSL) from Nightcaps, deep in the south. According to Jeremy, both companies were elated to have their trucks replicated as models, and he is moving forward with plans to build another eight units. He has already approached other well-known liveries to garner their interest, and they are equally as excited, so watch this space.


Changing Gears

Brayden’s parents own trucking company M&J Collins Haulage. He loves to head out with his dad on trips and wants to be a truck driver when he grows up.

Name: Brayden
Age: 10
Hails from: Wallerawang, New South Wales, Australia
Favourite truck: Kenworth

I have been into trucks all my life. My favourite brand of truck is Kenworth, but I do also like our other trucks like Western Star, Freightliner and CAT.

I really want to be a truck driver when I grow up because I already love to drive them around the farm. Dad let me have my first steer not sitting on his lap when I was 6, and I started changing gears when I was 9.

When I was younger I used to go away with Dad and sleep in the truck on interstate trips, but now I have to go to school! We have been to many farms in Central West NSW carting grain and fertiliser, but our main job is carting sand and gravel into Sydney concrete plants.

I like being in the truck with Dad because we see lots of different places and I learn lots of things from him about driving and tipping and loading. My favourite part of the trips are coming home because I get to help drive the truck up the long driveway and around the shed to park it up.

My dad is also a mechanic and he has been showing me how to maintain the trucks for years. We fix them, grease them, service them, change tyres and wash them. I have a smelly tree air freshener obsession and like to change the smell in the truck every week.

I wish I could spend every day with my dad in the truck, and I can’t wait to get my licence and drive on the road when I’m older.


Overnighter in a K200

His first time in a K200, Dustin went on a neat overnight roadie with his dad, seeing some cool spots along the way.

One drizzly sum- mer morning at 3:15am, there were alarms going off. I sprung out of bed and went out to the kitchen. I went into the pantry and grabbed some Weetbix, and I even made some for Dad.

We got in the Kenworth K200, which has a 600hp Cummins engine, in the Christchurch yard and took a load of empty pallets down to Timaru. It was my first time in a K200, so I was pretty excited.

We unloaded and reloaded, and headed north for Nelson. We stopped in Hinds and saw my Nan. After that we carried on, and we stopped in Amberley and got fuel.

Our next stop was Maruia Falls where we had a half- hour break. Did you know Maruia Falls was created in 1929 in the Murchison earthquake? That’s pretty cool.

After a quick break we carried on and went to Brenics’ yard and parked the truck up. We went to the motel and l had some tea, then we watched some TV before we went to bed.

The next day we woke up and went and dropped off the load at Sollys. After that, we went back to the yard and we got another load of veggies that from Friday afternoon would end up in Invercargill – the whole length of the South Island by Saturday morning!

We pointed south, we stopped in Springs Junction to get some water, and then we carried on to Christchurch. We got unloaded, and that was the end of our fantastic trip.

A special thank you to Brenics Ltd for letting Dad drive, and to everyone else along the way who were all super helpful and very friendly.