Spectrum 765. The roads recalled
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Jack Perkins speaks with Keith Newth, a driver for Newmans coaches who drove the length and breadth of the South Island. Keith recalls his 26 years behind the wheel before he retired at age 73 years in the 1980s..
Keith talks about driving etiquette on the windy roads like the Buller Gorge where he notes few accidents occurred before the road surface was upgraded.
He says the outside edge of roads could give way under heavy vehicles, right up until the early 1980s, so he was always careful to drive closer to the centre line.
He recalls some anecdotes of nervous passengers changing from the outside seats when going over passes inthe Southern Alps.
In Greymouth he acknowledges the miners were a law unto themselves and that six o'clock closing didn't exist. He recalls his worst driving experience was having to back the coach up along a very narrow Cobb Dam Road beside the Takaka River to make way for a collossal truck.
Keith explains there were two rules; the first was to never touch a drink when you were going to drive and the second, you always went downhill using the same gear as you went up, to save you breaking.
The tourist run around the South Island was his favourite with Te Anau to Milford run being the highlight. Keith describes driving through heavy snow and explains even though the roads were officially closed the coaches always drove through because it was written law the mail had to get through. The most unusual freight he carried was a swag of bees.
Keith explains how he would get his passengers to break the ice over the PA system, how relationships were built (including marriages) and the stories told (especially by the ladies) that filled out the journey.
Reference number 10674
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
NEWTH, Keith, Interviewee
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Interviewer
Date 02 Aug 1992