With cyclone Lusi bearing down on us we decided that we needed to retreat back over the humongous Takaka hill to the safety of Motueka to find a safe place to shelter in the promised storm – now as I write this – about 5 hours away. There is only this one road into this top western corner and with heavy rain forecast we do not want to be trapped there should there be any slips blocking the way back.
The hill has established notoriety due to the steep sustained climb – it winds steeply all the way from sea level to 791 meters at the top of the saddle. It commands incredible views out towards the valley leading to Takaka township.
The Toyota 70 series handled the work well – but it was a sustained climb mostly in 2nd gear but the temperature gauge was in the normal zone. The descent is what gave us something of a fright. The tight hair-pinned corners on the way down had us using 2nd gear again – just to keep good control and help the braking.
As we came to the last km or so downhill it became very scary as suddenly the brakes pedal hit the floor with a thud and nothing happened ,
” Oh ma God Barb – we have no brakes – suddenly it was like riding my bike – I started peddling fast – pumping away like mad in an attempt to get some hydraulic pressure back in the system. We managed to finally bring the rig to a stop on the flats at the bottom and stepped out for a ” moment” The acrid smell of red hot brake pads and heat radiating from the front wheels testament to the problem faced. We limped the last few Kms into town with virtually no brakes – found our retreat for the next 3 nights.
We had the brake system looked at by the local garage and have some work scheduled for Monday morning – the heart of the problem is suspect brake fluid that should have been replaced a few years back – it boiled due to the percentage of water in the system. Lesson in preventative maintainance learned .