Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Cam Slater
Queens Birthday weekend saw us take an Isuzu D-Max LS Maverick 13 from Southern Autos down to Goatistan in Taranaki for some chaos and mayhem.
This was a similar trip with a similar amount of kit to cart down as the last trip I did in a VW Amarok. I was keen to compare the two vehicles.
We had three burly men, 10 firearms (3 x Tikka .22-250, a Tikka .308, 2 x 6.5×55 Mauser, Remington Versamax 12ga, Savage B110 .338 Lapua Magnum, .22 Magnum, and an SKS). We also carried around 300 rounds of .22-250, plus reloading gear in case we run out of ammo. (There are a lot of goats, and Sunday night we did reload 200 rounds). We also had two 4×4 4 wheelers, 40 litres of diesel in jerry cans and 40 litres of petrol in cans as well. Plus personal gear, food and refreshments. It is a lot of gear.
Surprisingly we managed to get more in the back of the ute than in the Amarok and the hard top tray cover was brilliant. We could have tied down some gear on that if necessary, and with the deck tread aluminium and side rails would make carrying home animals a breeze without getting blood and guts inside the vehicle. The tray cover also can take 200kg of weight and so gives you true shoot-off-the-back capability.
We left late on Friday night, firstly to avoid the traffic and secondly because we had other commitments.
We drove down with all our gear in a surprisingly good time, the truck effortlessly pulling all our gear. We even gave it a nasty test by taking the turn off to Ohura off State Highway 3, along Okau Road and then up the nasty and narrow part of Kiwi Road in Taranaki. It was 1am by the time we started up Kiwi Road… and bloody freezing.
We went this way because it cuts about 20 minutes off the time to the hut if we go that way, despite the challenges, and saves going over Mt Messenger. Though it has to be said that driving Kiwi Road in the dark is a real challenge. It is narrow with nasty switch backs and sheer drops down the side. If you stuff up it will hurt, and towing a large and heavy tandem trailer makes it even more challenging.
But the Maverick 13 just ate up the road, never once getting into trouble.
The entire drive down was pleasant, and we even supplemented the radio with direct play from my iPad. For three burly men the cabin appointments were good, even for the back seat passenger.
Comparing the tow with the Amarok I have to say I believe the Isuzu was superior in both handling, set up and towing ability. It just never blinked and the engine never went over 2500 rpm the whole trip down.
The view down one of the valleys. Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Cam Slater
On the farm it just went from strength to strength. It is steep goat territory, and typical Taranaki mountain land.
On all the farm tracks the truck just never stopped, through deep mud, steep papa tracks, muddy farm races and slippery grass… all eaten up by the sure-footed Isuzu D-Max.
I only slipped into low-range once, when through my own mistake I approached a slippery papa track with inadequate momentum. It was the only time I spun the wheels, progress was halted, so I back back down a bit, quickly flicked the dial into low-range and powered up no trouble at all.
At 204yds the effectiveness of the .22-250 is apparent. Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Cam Slater
There are plenty of goats on this farm, all its boundaries are forest and so they just keep coming back. The Billy above was a good size and succumbed to my 40gr V-max bullet on the .22-250 with a good lung shot. At a muzzle velocity of 4100 fps this is a devastating round on small game like goats. Now before anyone gets upset at the location of the splatter, that is the exit wound and that is frothy lung blood. The actual entry wound was precisely where it was intended to go, at the base of the neck. The goat was facing front quarter on and the bullet entered and travelled through the lungs and exited out the side in a spray of red mist. We were shooting up hill hence the angle of bullet travel. This goat dropped instantly.
Another head for the collection at the hut. Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Cam Slater
204yds with a Tikka .22-250 Photo/ Whaleoil Media, Cam Slater
We have perfected our load for the .22-250 now, and it is effective with devastating effect inside 300yds. We do take shots over that, and I dropped 5 goats at around 400-415yds. The best shot for the weekend was 455yds on a Billy that I tipped up.
The more you shoot with a rifle the better you get, and goat shooting is a great way to get familiar with your firearm simply because of the huge number of rounds you put away down range. We tipped up over 200 goats this weekend.
We packed up on Monday afternoon, following a bomb up in a gully not far from the hut. We caught a good herd sheltering from the wind on a face with little bush cover and cleaned them out.
We left the hut at 1640 to drive home. This time we head down the other part of Kiwi Road and then out onto State Highway 3 at Uruti. We were going to put the Isuzu through its paces over Mt Messenger going home.
Well, it coped superbly well up the wet and slippery Mt Messenger part of the drive, and again I believe it handled the tow much smoother and better than the Amarok. We were back and unpacking at 215 after being only troubled with a couple of slow pokes on the drive back.
The truck was perfect, even with road profile 20inch tyres. The set up by the boys at Southern Autos was flawless. I really like this truck. I’m not sure they will be able to get it back off me.
Sure it doesn’t have all the fancy fruit like an Amarok, but it is very, very capable and is a real truck not some fancy town tractor pretending to be one.
Go and see my mates at Southern Autos, they will look after you for a test drive and a good deal. If you want a real truck then this is the one for you.
All photos and video taken with Spark Samsung S6 Edge, Isuzu D-Max LS Maverick 13 vehicle supplied by Southern Autos.