Twenty Seven Days on the Road - 2018 Great NZ Trek catering

DSC08591-2-Great NZ TrekPositioning the white truck at Matangi Station was tricky as the lay of the ground offered only one spot after the recent heavy rain. And we were to get only get one shot at it. Once in position, trek staff begin erecting the marquee for 330 guests

15,739 meals, eighteen 4.30 am starts, nine staff - these guys really rock, and four trucks, just for two jobs.

DSC08628-2-Great NZ TrekWorking half in darkness and sleeping in lots of different places makes 27 days is a long time to be away from home, friends and family. There is no supermarket at the end of the street either, so all supplies must be right on hand in our kitchen fleet. Full credit goes to the staff at Bidfood Dunedin and Timaru for the time and patience spent in packing and delivering our precious supplies - eight times! - to some of central Otago’s more remote backcountry stations.

Read on about our first part: the 2018 The Great New Zealand Trek.

It all started the week prior at our base in Little Akaloa. Staff began to arrive over a couple of days and the trucks were packed and ready to go three days later.  Other staff were collected on the long drive to Ranfurly - a very long day for Mac and Maggie because of a front tyre blow out 50kms north of Palmerston. Thank you Beaurepairs’ for your wonderful roadside service.

A very warm welcome, a scratch meal and a few drinks helped everyone settle into the ‘Old Post Office” back packers after their first 440kms on the road.  

Day 1: Omakau.

DSC08542-3-Great NZ TrekWhite and green trucks setup with 2 of the 3 staff caravans.

What better way to start our day, a gentle 45-minute drive down to Ophir. Well… until directed by trekkers to a farm gate named” Horse Paddocks”. Odd!  Never during the past two treks have we catered in horse paddocks and the track did look extremely dodgy after the overnight rain. Relying on the boss’s knowledge, we drove on to a second entrance complete with red cone and open gate. The track led through a lucerne paddock to where the camp was obviously setting up, and to be sure, several vehicles had already been through.

Cutting a long story short, we got stuck! Much friendly assistance was required from Mr Leask, the landowner and his trusty tractor to pull our trucks and trailers out.

Eight pallets of supplies arrived soon after from Bidfood and a serious day ensued to set up gear. before heading back to historical Ophir, for a lovely relaxing night at the Blacks Hotel - the last for some time to come.

DSC08547-3-Great NZ TrekRelaxing at Ophir after a day of setting up camp

Day 2: Lower Mannorburn Dam

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Lovely Grub catering is in place at Galloway Station and the meat is on. Trek staff are still putting up the marquee walls. With the green water-tank trailer and generator in place those vital connections to catering will already be operating. Volunteers have already stripped the tables and chairs from the curtain-sider. Who would have believed that 2 hours ago this was an empty paddock? Now it our home for the next 15 hours. That’s how it rocks with this team. Our guests, the trekkers, will soon be enjoying their hot showers or a cold beer after an enjoyable days trekking.

Day 3: Matangi

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The entire campsite was being rearranged upon our arrival at Matangi Station via the Little Valley Road. Recent rain made the original site impractical. After quite a long wait, we moved down the hill, setting up the white truck first. Once all our gear is in place, the marquee is set up within 2 meters of our steps. Then everyone else moves into their positions all around us.

DSC08589-2-Great NZ TrekVolunteer tents. Matangai Station logo is on the new wool shed. Older one is further back

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Shane is setting up the tables. George and Ian waiting for dinner, enjoying a well-earned rest after setting up the marquee and rest of the site.  George transports the marquee, tables and chairs. A water tanker is to the rear.

Day 4: Roxburgh

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Trekkers had a rest day, but not Lovely Grub - though our half hour sleep-in may suffice!  It did give time to head into town and fill our five 18 kg gas bottles even though not totally empty. We cannot afford to run out!  Rest day also meant “time to do washing”.  A bucket substituted as washing machine and a barbed wire fence, the cloths line. Horse-power was provided by ‘the boss’ and from the girls, loads of expertise!

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Among the auction items, this patchwork quilt fetched $2300 and with this magnificent beard gone another $3000 for Multiple Sclerosis!

Day 6: Millar’s Flat

Camp was on a tight site up on a ridge on Minzion Station. It had rained hard overnight and the morning dawned cold and damp. The breakfast crew had very little sleep after the window in their caravan was broken by some late night partiers. By the time it was repaired there was only 2 hours left for sleeping. Next morning the station’s big tractor was on hand to make sure we all got out safely - the ground being very wet and on a slippery slope.

DSC08677-Great NZ TrekThis sort of gear got us out of Minzion Station safely, after overnight rain created a very muddy slope.

Day 7: Beaumont

DSC08755-Great NZ TrekPack-out already underway on a misty morning at Overhill Station.

DSC08691-Great NZ TrekA trek quad-bike was borrowed so staff could go up the farm track on Overhill Station for an aerial view of the camp site.

Day 8: Lawrence

Our last day was at the rodeo grounds and traditionally, the last night is a party night. We put in an appearance but none of us stayed all that long. In the morning, after breakfast and goodbyes for another year, the Lovely Grub catering crew heading off to Twizel where 360 student rowers were about to arrive for the annual Maadi Cup regatta

DSC08767-2-Great NZ Trek2018 Lovely Grub catering team on last morning in Lawrence.