Steve Miles

In March 2023, Just Truckn Around7 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 15, 2023

At the recent Transfleet Trailers/Allied Petroleum Bombay Truck Show, Carl Kirkbeck caught up with Steve Miles from Mamaku. Steve was sitting beside his pride and joy, ‘Miles Ahead 2’, having just taken out the Best Scania award at the show. Resident driver for Kaitoa Logging of Whakatane, Steve and ‘Miles Ahead 2’ can be found all throughout central North Island on all manner of logging duties.

“It all started with Dad. When I was a young fella, he would tell me, ‘Son, you don’t want to be a truck driver like me,’ and in the next breath, he’d say, ‘How about jumping in the passenger’s seat and giving ya dad a helping hand, today?’” Steve says with a laugh.

“School really wasn’t for me. I used to gaze out the windows and the teachers would say, ‘Oy, Miles, stop looking out the windows and concentrate on the blackboard – you will never get paid to look out of windows.’ They got that one wrong. I get paid very well for looking out the windscreen of the Scania and I’m loving every minute of it.”

Meet Steve and you recognise the strong English accent. “Home was Oxfordshire. I got my HGV license, and a week later landed a job as a race tyre fitter and transporter driver with the Tom Walkinshaw Racing team.

“That job was something else. It took me all over Europe to virtually every racetrack throughout the Continent. I remember getting told, ‘Load the trailer, we are heading for Vallelunga’. I went home and told my mum and dad, and asked them where it was in the UK. When I looked it up, I realised it was a test track south of Rome! I was fair shitting myself driving the mighty Leyland Roadtrain and race trailer to the track. My first time driving on the Continent, I reckon I lost about 10 kilos sweating bricks. At the customs checkpoint I was as green as grass with no understanding of what to do, so I went with just throwing my hands up in the air and admitting that I had no idea what I was doing. Looking back, I suppose there was only one way to learn – get thrown in the deep end.”

Steve stayed with TWR for about five and a half years. “Great bunch to work with and laugh a minute, but I decided one day it was time for a change. A job with Rokold really opened the doors for me. Some memorable moments stick in my mind. One day I was heading into Paris with a load of meat the day the poor old Air France Concorde crashed [in 2000]. I was on the motorway passing by the Charles de Gaulle Airport, and next thing, there was a horrendous flash of bright light and plumes of black smoke, and you just knew that a plane had come to grief. As I continued into town, there was fire engine after fire engine heading past me towards the airport. I never imagined that it would be a Concorde involved in the accident. Spine chilling stuff.”

Steve then went into business with a couple of mates, doing the same sort of continental reefer transport – but this time for themselves. “That was about five years’ worth, great times, but the time came to go completely independent. I purchased a mega-space Mercedes-Benz and went about moving bulk, for-hire golf buggies all over Europe. A typical job would be to run 30 or so buggies over to Le Mans for the likes of the Aston Martin race team. Unfortunately, it did not last. With all manner of operators dropping out of Eastern Europe and slashing the rates, big change was needed.”

Then a Kiwi driver who did part-time work for Steve told him how beautiful New Zealand was and that it was ‘sort of like the UK 30 or so years ago’. “That was all I needed to hear. The wife and I packed our bags and headed for a holiday and a look around. We were hooked. I took the opportunity to drop off my CV to various companies and, basically, everywhere I went had the same response: ‘When do you want to start?’ Armed with that, we started moving over. That was 15 years ago, and we have not looked back.

“Once in New Zealand, I started with RFH in Rotorua. They had kept in touch and wanted me on board. I enjoyed my time with the team – 14 years, give or take. A great bunch and good gear. They put me in an older Foden when I first arrived. I think it was to try and make me feel at home. From there, I was given a new cabover Kenworth, and later on, it was into a nice new Scania.”

The vexing question for Steve was an easy one: rugby or soccer? “Soccer? What’s soccer? It’s football, mate! And yeah, I cannot get enough of it. My favourite team back home is Coventry City FC. That is the one thing I miss by living over here – the energy of a good live football game!”

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