Couple take classic Mercedes on two-and-a-half-year road trip.

Spending five years on the road in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of roads is possibly the stuff of nightmares for some.

But a Kiwi couple are braving the elements and the risk of their classic car - a 1957 Mercedes-Benz - breaking down, all in the name of adventure.

Fred and Elisabeth Smits are on a journey taking them tens of thousands of kilometres around the world - through the Americas, Europe, Russia by way of India, Malaysia and Australia - before they head back to New Zealand in the next two years.

They will do all this in their 60-year-old classic ride, a fact that continues to win them admiration and fans everywhere they travel.


"[It] started as a bit of a filling-our-days type of thing for two 60-plus-year-old people with their 60-year-old car, but soon became a trip where we ended up with so much publicity and some 1700 followers on our Facebook page," they told the Herald on Sunday.

The Smits, originally from the Netherlands, came to New Zealand with their three young children in the 1980s. The couple were inspired to take off on their big adventure after reading about a man who made a similar trip. After three years of planning, they set off in 2014.

Last week they arrived in Chile, making their journey so a far a distance of 82,872km.

They have worn out 16 tyres, changed the suspension 27 times, changed the oil 13 times, used up 83 litres of engine oil, replaced six fuel filters and 19 spark plugs, broken one GPS and killed a hedgehog.

Despite the mishaps, the couple say they love meeting people, who are always curious about their car and where they come from.

As well as being an old classic, their Mercedes-Benz, which they call Abel, is decked out with Kiwiana - New Zealand flags and stickers bearing "NZ" and "Nueva Zelanda".

"It is a great thrill to hear how positive the world thinks about our little New Zealand. Peter Jackson with The Lord of the Rings has done wonders. Almost everybody has seen the movies. New Zealand is really one of the most loved in countries in the world.

"Wherever we stop - petrol stations, shopping centres, restaurants, camping grounds - people want to know about the car, ourselves and our tour.


"When we talk to people in our very shabby Spanish, they often shake their heads and just cannot believe that we have been for more than 2, years on the road having covered over 83,000km in that time."

The Smits' journey will finish in 2019, when they head back to New Zealand.

To follow the Smits' adventure, visit: