Wheels at Wanaka

Leah headed to the Wheels at Wanaka show earlier this year, and after a little road trip seeing all the stunning sites, she checked out what was on display at the amazing event.

After arriving in Dunedin, we met with my sister who studies at the University of Otago. She picked us up and we headed to Wanaka, making a few stops at Milton, Alexandra and Clyde. On the first full day in Wanaka, we had lots of fun seeing the amazing scenery as well as driving an hour out to The Blue Pools and seeing the clear, blue, cold water glisten as the sun bounced off it.

On the second day in Wanaka, Saturday, we got our tickets out and ready for Wheels at Wanaka. We arrived at 9:30am and were greeted by the friendly staff. As soon as you walk in on your right there’s a bunch of classic trucks – we’re talking Macks, Internationals, Kenworths, ERFs and more. After window shopping the trucks, we left Dad to go to the motorcross area, where we watched the dirt bikes practising for the Sunday competition of semifinals and finals. We watched a dirt biker jump over eight cones as well as two people! After checking that out we made our way to the parade ground whilst walking past the steam engines and steel wheel tractors. At the parade ground we watched the last bits of the 100 Years of Kenworths and the whole of the 50 Years of Mack truck parade.

We headed to the food trucks for lunch – I got pork dumplings! As we ate our lunch, we watched the scrapers parade. Next, we watched Haydon Paddon drive the PRG Hyundai Kona EV car around the parade ground and make a few donuts on the grass. On our way to the earthmoving pit my sister bought me a snow cone. At the earthmoving pit we watched the 1960-1980 classic earthmovers. Next, we checked out the vintage cars, some looked like they were old, like 1900s old! Next to us we had the modern tractors, classic muscle tractors and tractor pull modified show, so we watched that. Whilst my dad and sister went to the Mack pop up shop, Mum and I went to a shuttle stop near the earthmoving pit. On the way to it I was shocked by the size of the CAT 789 dump truck. Mum and I hopped on the trailer of a tractor for a free ride that took us back to the entrance as a fun way to end the day.

I loved it and will definitely come back again in two years!

After fun at Wanaka, we travelled to Te Anau to have a day trip at Milford Sound, Bluff at the bottom of New Zealand (it was very cold!), Invercargill to see the world’s fastest Indian, the highly modified 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle made by Burt Munro, and back to Dunedin to stay at my sister’s flat for the night! I had the best trip ever!

Some CATs hitching a ride on the mighty Kenworth

The ERF lined up

Elite Excavation’s International parked up

Big drive to Brisbane

Kiwi turned Aussie Lucas tells us all about truck life in North Queensland.

Hey guys, I’m Lucas Gallagher, and I’m 15 years old. I was born in Thames, New Zealand, but we now live in Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays in North Queensland. The town is a little bit like Queenstown in New Zealand and is based largely around tourism.

My dad Bradley drove trucks for his whole driving career in New Zealand for Main R & L Ltd, Provincial Freightlines and Paul Rudd before we moved to Australia.

Dad’s current boss owns a resort, which also has a restaurant, a bar as well as three bottle shops in town. Because we live so far from any main cities, Dad’s boss bought his own Kenworth T909 B-double for Dad to drive down to Brisbane and back, which is 13 hours each way (1100km) to pick up the alcohol and supplies each week – sometimes two times a week in the busy holiday periods.


Lucas and his Dad, Bradley

I’m lucky enough to go for rides with Dad during the school holidays. His truck is a 2019 T909 Kenworth with a 50-inch sleeper. It went to Bling Man HQ in Brisbane and got all the tanks stainless steel wrapped, with lots of lights and stainless steel everywhere. It has a custom stereo with subwoofers, so we’ve got some good tunes to listen to on the way to Brisbane.

Dad normally goes to one big warehouse in Brisbane and loads up all the alcohol the business needs for the week, then comes back up and unloads it at the hotel. After unloading the trailers, the truck gets a full wash all ready for the next trip. Lots of tourists like to ask Dad questions about the truck and take photos of it when it’s parked at the hotel.

Last year, Dad and I took the truck to the Brisbane Convoy for Kids truck show and Dad’s truck won a trophy for Truck of the Show, beating out more than 700 trucks

Here’s a few photos from my trips with Dad, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Go for it girls!

Isabella had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Russell, known as Sam, from Swanson Transport Ltd in Auckland.

One of the interesting things I learnt is that Sam is the only female operator at Swanson Transport. Six years with the company, she now proudly operates an 8-Wheeler Rear Mount Hiab – a job that she didn’t expect to be doing as a young girl but is super proud of.

You can do it, too

In a male-dominated industry, her message to young girls is, “If transport is the career path you are thinking of, and you want to operate one of these big machines, go for it! Girls and women can do the same jobs as the boys and can do it just as well!”

What Sam also loves about her role is the variety of work she gets to do while also discovering some beautiful parts of New Zealand. Getting to know the North Island well, one of her favorite drives would be to Tauranga.

Safety first

Sam knows that being an operator comes with a lot of responsibility, and safety is always key to make sure she can perform her job. Pre-checks every morning to make sure the truck is in good condition to allow her to get to her job. There are also safety checks that are done on arrival and departure from a work site. Operating these machines requires you to be alert of your surroundings, which is why it’s important to get a good night’s rest. Sam has been fortunate that Swanson Transport have been able to assist her get the licences she needs.

Hard at work
What a view
It takes a lot of skill to operate this machinery

Moo-ving Cattle

Name: Zoe
Age: 8 years old
Lives: Queensland
Can be found in: A Kenworth C509

Hey Little Truckers, my name is Zoe and I live in Queensland, Australia. I LOVE getting the chance to go with my dad in the cattle truck some school holidays. The truck is a Kenworth C509 with Cannon Trailer cattle crates.

We live in Goondiwindi, Queensland and our family owns McKelvey Livestock Haulage, which helps farmers move their cattle very big distances across Australia.

Zoe with her dad, Steve

Depending on the job, sometimes the truck has a B double hooked up (three decks), but it’s my favourite when the road train is set up because it looks huge! A road train carries six decks of cattle. When they are taking cattle into the feedlot, there are 156 head of cattle on board. That’s a lot of beef!

When I go in the truck, my favourite part is watching and helping load the cattle into the crates. When I grow up I’d like to be a Jillaroo and also drive a truck.

See you on the roads!

Meet a KW Oldie - Guy Knowles Palmeston North

Guy Knowles is the owner of Guy Knowles Transport ltd.

Kenny: Hey Guy, how long have you owned Kenworths?

Guy: Hey Kenny. I’ve owned Kenworths for over 18 year or so now but I have loved them since I was a kid, that would be before you were even on the assembly line.

Kenny: Why do you love Kenworths so much?

Guy: That’s easy, they are simply the best.

Keeping the Kenworth K200 dry and ready
Looking Stunning with a fantastic livery

Q & A with a Truckie

Blake puts the questions to truck driver Laryn Heath.

Q: What age did you start driving trucks?
A: 25.

Q: How long have you been driving for?
A: 11 years.

Q: What truck do you currently drive?
A: A Kenworth K200.

Q: What do you currently cart?
A: General freight, so pretty much anything and everything except gravel and livestock.

Q: What is the best thing you have carted?
A: I like doing oversized tractors and floats in our local Easter parade.

Q: And what’s the worst load you’ve ever carted?
A: A load of express market onions! They moved and went all through the trailer – I had to restack the bags back onto the pallets by hand.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to be truck drivers?
A: Try and stay fit and healthy, and always make sure you get enough sleep!

Q: What type of trailers have you pulled?
A: Tautliners, flat tops and extenables.

Q: What’s the best thing about being a truck driver?
A: Every day is different and you’re always meeting new people.

Q: What kind of training did you have to do to get your licence?
A: I had to do a knowledge computer test and a two-day driving test in a manual truck.

Q: What’s the hardest thing about being a truck driver?
A: Being away from my family.

Q: What’s something most people don’t know about trucks?
A: Almost every item you buy from a shop has been on at least three trucks!

Q: And what’s your favourite truck?
A: The T950 Kenworth!

Q & A with a Truckie

Blake puts on his interviewer hat and gets to know his truck driving Pop, Mark Close.

Q: What age did you start driving trucks?

A: 17, I’ve been driving for 39 years.

Q: What truck do you currently drive?

A: Freightliner Argosy.

Q: What do you currently cart?

A: Anything that goes in tipper trailers but mainly grain and fertiliser.

Q: What’s the worst load you’ve ever carted?

A: A load of wood without tipper trailers. It had to be hand loaded and unloaded.

Q: What type of trailers have you pulled?

A: Everything but livestock. Over the years I’ve pulled tippers, tankers, car carriers, flat tops and tautliners.

Q: Whats the best thing about being a truck driver?

A: Beating Kenworths with my Freightliner (he wishes, he knows I’m a Kenworth fan so he is just stirring me up!).

Q: What is the best thing you have carted?

A: Potatoes in the tipper because its a quick and easy load.

Q: What kind of training did you have to do to get your licence?

A: I had to go for a drive around town with a police officer. The day I got my licence I went on my first interstate trip.

Q: What’s the hardest thing about being a truck driver?

A: Having to anticipate what other drivers are going to do and dealing with caravans.

Q: What’s something most people don’t know about trucks?

A: It’s not like driving a car, they take a really long time to build up speed and a long time to stop.

Q: What is your favourite truck?

A: I had a 4800 series Western Star. That would have to be my favourite truck.

The big T610 Kenworth

One rainy afternoon I jumped in the big T610 Kenworth with truck driver Matt from Steve Martin Contracting, and I was on my way to Nelson.

As we pulled away I could hardly tell that we had a load on – the truck boasted 600hp and we were carrying 30 tonnes of flour.

As we were leaving Christchurch, we didn’t know if we were going up the coastline or up the Lewis Pass, because the road could have been closed because of snow. But Matt made the call and we went up the Lewis Pass – the road hadn’t shut so that was good news!

Matt and Dustin carried 30 tonnes of flour on their trip

It was my first time in a T610 Kenworth. The truck does about 5500 kilometres a week. Steve Martin Contracting has four trucks. Matt said he has been truck driving for 22 years. It takes about one hour to unload and about 45 minutes to load the T610. Matt likes the truck’s power and it is a manual gearbox. Matt says he prefers black mud flaps over white mud flaps. My favourite thing about the truck was the cool green LED lights, which looked awesome at night.

Thanks Matt for taking me along for the ride, and to Steve Martin, his wife Robyn and the entire crew at Steve Martin Contracting.

All aboard the Grain Train!

Reid heads out in a Scania with our friends at Owens Transport, carting grain to Auckland to make beer!

Hi there Little Truckers, my name is Reid and recently I had my second adventure in a big rig truck.

This time I was in a V8 R620 Scania with Shaun and Ben from Owens Transport.

As Shaun pulled up, I felt amazed and shocked at the same time because of how big the Scania was and that it was a curtain sider. Today’s job is to cart grain to an Auckland brewery to make Heineken beer.

Reid up front

Shaun drove into the Tatuanui weighbridge to pick me up. The Scania is a truck and trailer that holds a big bag inside filled with grain. It was weird because there is not normally a big bag inside a curtain sider. Big tanks store all the grain before loading the trucks. It gets loaded up the top. There’s a remote that tips the deck up and down when the truck is unloading the grain. When the truck’s deck tips, the grain goes out the little doors at the back.

I am really grateful to Shaun and Ben who took time out of their day to take me for a ride and for answering my questions! What an epic day riding in the big gear!

A day out with Dad

I started the morning by attempting to mirror my father’s normal daily routine. A 4am wake up call, breakfast, preparing for work and then the drive to Swanson from Mangere.

My dad Kiripati is the general freight manager for Swanson Transport Ltd. General freight handles and transports a wide variety of goods that can be transported in many ways. They can either be transported in containers, vans, trucks and trailers and sometimes even specialised vehicles.

The general freight trucking industry provides a number of key services such as local pickup, local sorting, destination sorting and local delivery. Communication and planning plays a pivotal part in performing his role. The numerous emails and phone calls received can vary from internal and external customers, new customers requiring freight services to drivers who will require location confirmation and any special delivery or pickup instructions.

Order and truck allocation is key to ensure that the right vehicle is sent to perform the right job. Certain truck operators hold different class licences, so my father needs to identify these special jobs and select the right operator to perform the duty.

Every day is different, so planning ahead to keep on top of the ever-changing schedule is important to ensure things run smoothly for himself and his team. My dad’s role requires him to work in the office, ensuring that he is always available to tend to his customer and team needs. He is very hands-on and will happily assist if need be in the warehouse, operating the forklift and loading trucks.

Swanson Transport has their own mechanical workshop for their trucks on site, as well as their own wash bay. There are many trucks, all different types and sizes that perform special jobs. Some trucks have a fitted crane at the back, which allows them to lift extremely heavy and large loads. There are also pilot utes that guide larger trucks – they are responsible for alerting the truck driver of any possible issues ahead and ensure other road users are aware that a large heavy load follows.

Safety is taken very seriously at Swanson Transport, certain safety gear is required to move around the workplace. All visitors are required to sign in on arrival and access must be given to enter the work site. Hi-vis vests, hard hats and safety boots are to be worn, most importantly being aware of your surroundings and recognising possible danger.

I have enjoyed my time at Swanson Transport, witnessing first hand Dad’s work day and the pride he takes in his work.

I had the privilege of meeting the owner of the business, Mr Jeff Smith, who has been part of this business for many years. I also met general manager Mr Nick Longuet-Higgins, as well as the office staff who were all very welcoming. Now that I’ve had an insight into how the transport industry operates, next time I see a truck on the road I’ll definitely be giving it a wave! Thanks to Dad and everyone at Swanson Transport for showing me around.