How to roll start an Isuzu Elf on the flat.

Take heart, if you find yourself with an unresponsive Elf in the perfectly flat Long Vehicle Carpark at Twizel, there is a simple solution.

1. Find a humongous 4×4 ute.

This one belongs to Twizel Auto and Marine Services, the local AA contractor. That’s one lean and mean off road vehicle there. Look at those serious off road tyres, and the great ground clearance. You could cry. (Actually, you can get a single cab version of this with a similar configuration ‘home’ as Tonka’s built on it, for only 5 times the price of what we paid for Tonka…)

2. Try a roll start on reverse tow.


And should that fail…

3. Try a roll start on a forward tow.


Repeat until the wretched thing starts (providing no end of entertainment for the local citizenry) then drive to the workshop to have the battery replaced. Weird that the battery chose to die in a town where good services were at hand. The previous day we were in Aoraki/Mt Cook, in atrocious weather, where services were at least an hour away.

The truly droll part of this story is that only five days beforehand, the battery died in the Carib. This time it was parked 15m from the shore of Lake Middleton, near Ohau village. There was only a slight incline and roll starting the car had a definite risk of going for a swim. I think Dave thrives on challenges like this but I didn’t take any photos because I had my eyes closed.

As it turned out, Dave stayed dry, the car started and Harry at Omarama Mobil did the rest. There seem to be no shortage of good blokes in the auto repair business in this area, or indeed the south of the South Island as we seem to be meeting most of them.

Oh, and we haven’t told you that Tonka has been relegated to a true motor caravan, have we? We were so frustrated by our lack of mobility over winter – we thought that fitting chains to Tonka was going to be straightforward and it was anything but – that we brought the Carib out of storage. It works well all round. It frees up yard space for Diane and Alan who were very kindly minding the car for us. We use Tonka as a base and only need to drive it when we shift camp.

And we are keeping camp shifts to a minimum!