Rochelle heads out with James from Croskery Contracting in Masterton to learn all about what a day in the life of a trucker really looks like.

It’s still pitch black when I arrive at the Croskery’s yard before sunrise at 6.30am to meet up with James Sladden. I am given a hi-vis vest and we head to his truck, a 2018 Volvo FM500. The first thing he does is a safety check, walking around the truck checking his tyres. We climb in and while the truck is warming up, James starts his logbook for the day.

We head over to a pile of crushed metal (stones) where James parks the truck and climbs into the loader and loads his truck with 26 tonnes of 65ml metal.

Once loaded we drive two hours to Tora Beach, South Wairarapa. The views are stunning and when we arrive the sun is rising across the bay above the hills – so beautiful, something I don’t get to see every day!

James has been working at Croskery’s for two years, previously he was working at a quarry, Taweru Lime Works, in Masterton for 20 years. He has always loved trucks and as soon as he was old enough, he got his HT licence at 16 years of age. James loves being out and about seeing the country and enjoys the different challenges this kind of work offers.

At Tora Beach the truck was unloaded trailer first onto the muddy gravel road while the truck was driven very slowly forward. A digger followed, spreading the metal. From there we continued down the hill and turned the truck around and headed back up the slippery slope and emptied the truck bin. Then we got stuck! With some clever driving skills and some help from a digger pushing us from behind, we were on our way again very quickly. Our next stop was Peter Warren Aggregates, Featherston. The first thing James did was fill in some paperwork, this is to sign in to say he’s on site. Here we were loaded again with 65ml metal, but this time it was loaded for us. We then headed back to Tora to unload. This time James unloaded the trailer then drove back up the hill and unhooked the trailer and went back down, truck only, to unload the bin to ensure we didn’t get stuck again.

The reason we are taking the metal to Tora is because they are putting in a culvert. This is a large pipe that runs under the road to let the water flow and prevent flooding. The metal we are laying is covering the culvert – a very important part of keeping our roads safe and usable for motorists. It may sound simple but it’s a big job that includes lots of different types of workers including a traffic management team that needs to ensure the road is clear for the truck, as it is a very narrow dirt road that can only allow vehicles travelling in one direction at a time.

We head back to Featherston to load up again and take one last load to Tora. From there we then head to Ahiaruhe River, Carterton. Here James jumps on the loader and fills up both bins, truck and trailer with river run (stones of all shapes and sizes) that we take back to Masterton and unload at the Croskery yard to be processed. That means the stones will be broken down to rough rubble to be used for future jobs.

It is about 5.30pm when we fuel up the truck and park up, it’s now knock off time. James completes his logbook and paperwork for the day. It was a great day learning about what James does in his Volvo and what Croskery Contracting is all about. Not only does James have a cool job driving trucks AND machinery, but he gets to see some hidden gems and amazing scenery in and around the Wairarapa region!