We had the chance to review the Ford Ranger Raptor in NZ over the New Year and here’s how it went.
As I have matured (another way of saying I’m getting old), the need to stay up until the early hours of the morning, partying, has waned and nothing highlights this more than New Year’s Eve. There was a time when this was the most important date in my social calendar, with the venue, attire and company earmarked well in advance. This year however, not so much.
Oh no, this year saw me responsibly toasting the new year with a warm cup of cocoa in front of the TV then shuffling off to bed a few minutes later – but for a good reason. You see, rather than nursing a nasty hangover, this January 1st had me ‘recovering’ in a whole new way, a family road trip north in the Ford Ranger Raptor.
The Ford Ranger is New Zealand’s number one selling vehicle so taking it on a family trip to Cape Reinga is not as crazy as it sounds and with the opportunity to take this Raptor performance model on to 90 Mile beach made my vacation/vehicle combo that much better.
With Auld Lang Syne still bouncing around my head, we Loaded the truck with camping, fishing, beach, walking, hiking and swimming gear, oh and the family (Thankfully the Raptor has a 1560x1743mm rear tray, spacious interior and an awesome suspension) and hit the road.
The traffic from Auckland to Whangarei was lighter than expected and we made good time. Stopping by McDs for breakfast and a full tank of diesel (avoiding the Auckland fuel tax – clever daddy) before the long drive to the top of the island. I recently traveled these roads in the Ford Everest so had a fair understanding of what to expect but then we hit the Mangamuka Gorge Road.
The Mangamuka Gorge Road is around 20kms of twisty, highly-undulating SH1 tarmac through the Maungataniwha and Raetea forests and it’s epic (well for those in the front seats at least). The Raptor quite simply attacked every single curve and bend as we climbed to the road’s peak and rode an equally wild ride back down the other side. It was awesome. The 2L engine and 10-speed gearbox seemed to stay locked near their 500Nm peak and the
After around 6ish hours of drive time and 400 odd km we arrived at the lighthouse and watched the two oceans meet, again, if you haven’t done this, I strongly suggest that you do. We took our time digesting the sight and maybe took a few pictures before returning south in search of our pre-booked accommodation.
We camped at Wagener Holiday Park in Houhora Heads. It’s a glorious family friendly site with all the amenities you could hope for. The new owners are helpful and friendly and it’s very popular which, to me, says it all really.
Following a great night’s sleep under canvas, it was time to hit the beach, 90 Mile beach that is, Raptor time. For those that don’t know, 90 Mile Beach is a public highway and spans the North West tip of NZ. Low tide is recommended and so are 4×4’s but in all honesty, it’s not overly stressful to drive on (better safe than sorry though) and getting on and off the beach requires something with ground clearance – not an issue with the Raptor sitting just under 300mm.
We drove the 20 or so kms to Kaitaia and loved every minute. Stopping for a dip in the water (us not the Raptor) before heading to Kerikeri to stay with friends for the night.
The near 1000km round trip took up the first few days of the year and I have to say, what a way to start 2019. We camped, fished, ate junk food, enjoyed loads of Kiwi hospitality, relaxed, recuperated and drove on some fine NZ highways and byways, I really needed the break. Thanks Ford Ranger Raptor you were an amazing ‘recovery’ vehicle.
Awesome work on the pictures TezMPhoto