In Industry Comment5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 26, 2020

“There were more horns blowing than the brass section of the NZ Symphony Orchestra and there weren‘t just waves from the drivers…”

I have often heard people say that if you‘re feeling a bit down and out that you should go to the arrivals lounge at the closest airport to watch the best in human nature interaction. As a truck enthusiast and photographer, my happy place would not be an airport terminal, it would now be the logging access road at the Port of Napier. This I discovered on a recent trip to Napier with my son Benny (also an avid truck photographer at nine years old). Benny and I travel the length and breadth of the country capturing images of New Zealand‘s unique transport industry and, to be fair, we are usually very well received by the men and woman piloting the big gear that keeps our fine land functioning. Then there is the Napier Port logging access road. This is next level. Early one Thursday morning last October, Benny and I roll up to the access road armed with our cameras and the shutters were soon in action. This would be one of the busiest spots I have ever photographed trucks, averaging more than a truck a minute and at times two or three rolling in at a time. This alone was enough to make it a top spot, but what transpired made it even more sensational.

We were photographing the loaded trucks coming into the port and the truckies would slow to a crawl and/or stop for us to take photographs of their trucks. Not such a big deal you might say, but the awareness of the truckies who weren‘t being framed in our lenses at the time was simply brilliant. Trucks coming in behind the particular truck we were photographing would slow or stop back down the road so as not to get in the picture of the truck being photographed. At the same time, the unloaded trucks leaving the port from behind us would do the same. They too would slow or come to a complete stop so that we could take our photographs in the opposite direction.

There were more horns blowing than the brass section of the NZ Symphony Orchestra and there weren‘t just waves from the drivers, there were big old-fashioned truckie waves with door windows down greeting us, and when traffic permitted, some would stop for a quick chat out the cab window. This was all happening at one of the busiest logging export ports in New Zealand. To me the truckies we encountered over the couple of days we spent on the access road epitomise the true nature of what it means to be a truckie in New Zealand. They looked proud, passionate about what they doing, and were the consummate professionals to boot. As well as photographing trucks, I have worked in most areas of the transport industry for more than 27 years and this experience made me feel bloody good about being involved in it. But what really gave me the warm fuzzies was the lasting impression it left on the grinning nine-year-old lad with camera in hand, standing right beside me.

Photo: Just when we thought it couldn‘t get any better, the last 8×4 Foden in the world to go on the road just happened to drive by.

Photo: McCarthy Logging‘s trucks were a common sight on the port access road

Photo: Tankers and tippers both use the same port access road

Photo: Even the rain couldn‘t put a dampener on proceedings

Photo: A near new Scania from Tony Pye Cartage

Dean Middleton is the general manager of Charter Transport in Christchurch and a freelance contributor to transport media.