Wanganui woman Gilly Brown might not have been aware that she was on the way to making history when she set off from Bluff at the wheel of a borrowed 1982ish David Brown tractor.

She was well and truly apprised of her special place in tractor annals, as the first 76-year-old woman to drive a David Brown the length of the country, when she and her fellow trekkers paused in Kaitaia on Friday for a farewell breakfast before they set off for home, however.

Ms Brown was presented with a special award — a bar of chocolate (to restore her energy for the journey home), some soap (which, it was suggested, she might like to use to clean the oil off her hi-viz vest), and a bottle of nail polish (in case she wished to further pimp her tractor, which she had gaily decorated with butterflies).

She was not a fingernail polisher, she said, but some could be destined for her toes.


The trekkers were in fine spirits on Friday morning as they tucked into the hearty breakfast served by the local Rapid Relief Team, and were already talking about repeating the experience in 2020.

The second biannual trek, involving eight tractors, a Landrover, a Willys Jeep and a Humvee, took 26 days to cover the 2000km, led by the Humvee at a slightly less than blistering 29km/h, top speed for Ms Brown's David Brown, which was second in the convoy, followed by the others, each of them two power poles back from the one in front to minimise hold-ups for anything travelling quicker than that.

Taranaki man Rodney Maiden was only driving his 1964 Massey Ferguson as far as Auckland on the return journey; from there he was going to cart it home on a trailer, to cut two days off his travelling time, as there were things he needed to do at home.

It had been an amazing experience, he said.

"Great people, great company, and a great response from Hospices."

He was no longer a working farmer, he added, but he was a vintage tractor enthusiast, his collection being "lovingly looked after" in a shed.

Ken Wyley, from Hawke's Bay started the inaugural trek in the South Island, so joined this one in Wellington in his 1970 Landrover, the very last of the 2A models.

He had no idea how many times it had been around the clock; he was the 15th or 16th owner, he said, and had installed a new odometer, which was currently not working.

Kaitaia, he said, was more Hospice-minded than any other community he had pulled up in.

Gilly Brown's effort was especially commendable though. The former teacher and one-time missionary was a farmer's daughter, but had never driven a tractor until she hopped aboard the David Brown. (Her motivation included the fact that her late brother was also David Brown, so the trek was partially made in his memory).

She was proud to have been part of an outstanding adventure, she said, and had no shortage of memories to take home to Wanganui with her (in a dry, comfortable car; the tractor was staying in Kaitaia for a while, for a rest).

With no cab she had been at the mercy of the elements, wrapping herself in plastic rubbish bags on particularly wet days, to the point where some war ned her she would be lucky if she didn't end up in a landfill.

On an especially cold day, heading for Blenheim, she had filled a milk bottle with hot water in a bid to stave off the chill.

The inaugural trek, in 2016, organised by Phil Aish after his wife died, raised around $100,000 for Hospice. This year's proceeds are not yet known, but Far North Hospice was very grateful for the effort everyone had made on behalf of the organisation.

"It's a job well done," Margaret Tolladay said on Friday.

"We look forward to seeing you again in two years."