“Kia Ora. I’m Craig Christensen from New Zealand!”

In Tests, May 20229 MinutesBy Gavin MyersJune 27, 2022

That gets them!” laughs Craig as he tells me about his adventures in the UK and US talking with different truckies. We’re looking at the impressive collection of models on display in the eight-shelf, custom-made cabinet at his Rotorua home. All close to heart, some are hand-built, some represent significant chapters of his life, and some – like the shelf dedicated to UK haulier Eddie Stobart – demonstrate his passion for the industry.

“About 20 years ago, my wife Wendy gave me a book on Eddie Stobart himself, then about 10 years ago I was on the internet and came across this programme called Trucks and Trailers that featured Eddie Stobart [the company]. Well… I bought all the DVDs in the series from England, and I was hooked.”

While on OE with Wendy in 2017, Craig got the opportunity to touch, photograph and drive an Eddie Stobart truck around the company’s yard in Carlisle, England – an almost impossible opportunity for someone who doesn’t work for the company. “That was something,” he says.

“I applied for them to name a truck after my wife – they name all their trucks after girls – but the closest I got was a coffee mug with “Wendy Jane” as it would’ve been on the truck. There was a five-year waiting list, and I just missed out because ownership of the company was changed over.”

Then there’s the shelf with a couple of R-model Macks on it. “Dad worked as a diesel mechanic for the Levin Dairy Factory. About 18-months before it closed in 1974, the factory replaced the bonnet-nosed Hino that would cart the cream with an R-model Mack. That’s what got me hooked onto Mack trucks. Seven years old or so, looking up at the bulldog on the big bonnet… And the air start… Wow, that just shot me through the roof!”

The factory’s big Mack, the old Hino, and three TK Bedfords with A-train trailers all played a part in igniting the passion for a young Craig. The oldest of five siblings (youngest brother Kevin is also a truck driver), Craig’s upbringing in Ohau, outside Levin, saw him in and around Thames Traders, Ford D-series and Bedfords too.

It was after he trained as a fitter welder at the Horowhenua Electric Power Board that Craig got his HT licence. “They put me through that on a little Isuzu jinker truck with a long bolster. They’d load it up with five or six poles and that gave you your weight to go get your class 5,” he recalls. Time at the HEPB came to an end after 12 years, and in the late 1990s, Craig and Wendy moved to Rotorua. He had several jobs, including bus driving for a local tour company, but the need to go trucking was always there.

“Around 2000, New Zealand Towel Services (NZTS) advertised for a route driver. I got the job covering Whakatane, Edgecumbe and Kawerau in a Ford Trader with an open box body. I had that for about three years, and I blew two motors going over the Rotomas – she cooked, she steamed, dropped a clutch. She was an old girl. She was a good truck but with heavy weight and dirty, wet loads, she struggled,” Craig recalls.

NZTS was bought out and became Alsco NZ, and in 2003, Craig was presented with a new Isuzu NPQ and the run to Taumarunui, which included the Tongariro Chateau and Skotel. “That was a two-day thing, leaving here 1am or 2am, dropping off linen in Turangi, National Park, all the way down to Taumarunui, and then picking up all the dirties on the reverse trip.”

In 2005, Craig felt the need for a change and got a job with Carl Norton, who was contracted to Coca-Cola with a couple of CW330 Nissans.

“In 2007, Alsco approached me to come back, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come back with bells on.’ They just gave me the keys and said, ‘alright, you just look after the truck’.” That was the start of the Tauranga/Taupo routine, which Craig did until he had the opportunity in 2009 to go line-hauling for Douch Transport in a Volvo FH.

“It only lasted a week because the driver I was replacing didn’t leave in the end. I’d handed in my notice at Alsco. Then it was, ‘oh shit!’ They’d already replaced me, and I was unemployed for about a month.

“Then Wendy came across an ad for a job with Bidvest. They found out I’d got all my licences and had actually just taken a driver off the road for misconduct – on the Taumarunui run… Well, I knew that run like the back of my hand!”

In 2012, Alsco Rotorua had just taken on its new Hino 500 (Trusty Old No.1, as it’s referred to), and Craig was approached to come back. “I look back now, and if I didn’t have those five or six years off for what I call bad behaviour, I would’ve been with the company 21 years.”

Fast forward to 2018 and, all of a sudden, EVs were on the agenda. “Mike said, ‘Look, we want you to be a part of this project; this is a big thing for the company.’

“We were the guinea pigs, and I was happy to be involved. I didn’t think we’d see this for another 10 or 15 years.”

Craig’s had to come off driving duties to focus on his recovery, and in the meantime, his passion for model-truck building keeps him tied to the industry. As does his son Dylan, who’s had the trucking bug passed onto him and built up a solid career of his own, currently driving for Williams & Wilshier.


In 2021, Craig was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer. He asked if we would use the opportunity to spread an important message on men’s health. In his own words: “Men have got to look at themselves and get themselves checked for any minor problem. Get it diagnosed early.

“I’ll put my hand up and say I made a mistake, that I didn’t speak up earlier when I was having symptoms. I hid it very well. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it and thought I could just wait for it to clear up, but in the long run, it didn’t clear up. My path now is just chemo; there’s nothing else we can do.

“Especially in the transport industry, we’re bloke’s blokes and don’t take the time to relax and have a meaningful break. The hours put stress on you. Work in some fitness and good, nutritious food.

“From me to guys out there, speak up. If you’re feeling any symptoms, back pain, heart pain, get checked out no matter what it is. I made the mistake of ignoring them.”