Approximately 50km west of Christchurch on State Highway 73 lies the small village of Sheffield, world famous in Canterbury for its pie shop above all else. Very popular with locals and tourists alike, it is always a ‘must-do’ location on any trip from Christchurch to the West Coast.

Another must-do in Sheffield — but only for one day a year — is the Sheffield Volunteer Fire Brigade Charity 4x4 Mud Plug event. Held on the property of local farmer, Derek Bull, the event attracted around 30 entries this year. Spread over two classes, vehicles had to navigate their way through 11 different courses, losing points for knocking pegs over or going off course, or, worse still, getting bogged down and having to be towed out.

With the course set out to follow the lines of a creek, it wasn’t long before the vehicles had ripped the trail up, turning it into a boggy mess, making it very challenging for some of the competitors. Each entrant was issued with a score sheet, giving them a different starting gate, meaning that the full course was being used at any given time. As each vehicle finished its course and the points were recorded by the marshal, the entrant moved on to the next stage. This kept spectators very busy moving between each stage, following their favourite cars and drivers.

Ben Howard was thrilling the crowd while navigating his way out of the mud in his ’93 Toyota Hilux, with Richard Platman riding shotgun. The truck runs a three-litre turbo-diesel engine with large Nissan axles, coilover suspension, and 40-inch tyres. The truck was built up to play around on the various riverbeds of Canterbury, but the guys decided to come down from Loburn to try something new.

Previous event winner Andrew Satherley travelled all the way from Nelson with his Jeep to take on the competition. With a four-litre six-cylinder engine and auto, the vehicle remains largely stock, other than a two-inch suspension lift and 35-inch tyres. We were very lucky this year, as Andrew not only gave us a ride with him, but also chucked us the keys during the lunch break to truly get the feel of what it’s like to drive through the mud. It was a very cool experience and one that must be tried.

Colin Rees’ ’79 Jeep C37 was one of the crowd favourites, making easy work of the mud thanks to its 36-inch tyres and 350ci TPI Corvette engine. We’re sure his co-pilot Anthony Maglis was having a blast!

Nick Geddis’ Nissan has the nickname ‘Grumpy’, and watching it in action, it’s easy to see why — under the hood lies some true V8 power. 

Well, if you like to keep your vehicle clean, taking part in Mud Plug isn’t for you.

While some drivers chose to take it easy while exiting this dry creek, others decided to go for it and reach for the sky, such as the owner of this Nissan Patrol.

Looking at this 4x4, you may think you are looking at a modified Toyota Landcruiser, but, according to the owner, Andrew Kane, the Lexus V8–powered vehicle only wears a Landcruiser bonnet and part of the front guards. The rest has all been custom-built to do the job.

With the Mud Plug being a charity-run event, the money raised this year was donated to the Sheffield Volunteer Fire Brigade and St John’s. Having run the event for 15 years, the firemen really know how to run a great event, and judging by the huge crowd of spectators, know how to entertain everyone. We're really looking forward to next year's mud session! 

Open Class
1st: Andrew Satherley (Jeep)
2nd: Callum Bond (Toyota)
3rd: Rick Cosby (Jeep)

Modified Class
1st: Peter Clarke (Land Rover)
2nd: Daryl Foster (Suzuki)
3rd: Andrew Dennison (Toyota)

Rod Dunn

Born and bred in Central Otago, I moved to Christchurch in 1995. I’ve had several different jobs over the years, from being a kiln operator, to running my own handyman business, and currently I'm the Maintenance Manager at the Wigram Airforce Museum. I'm happily married to my wife Anne-Marie, and between us we have six children — all living away from home now. Photography has been a consistent interest throughout my life, and I've always had a passion for cars, so it was just natural that I would end up photographing them. I also love to do landscape photography whenever I get the chance. I began contributing to NZV8 magazine in 2012 and have gone on to become NZV8's South Island correspondent, photographing and writing both feature car and event articles. I love meeting people and shooting their cars, as well as covering shows for the mag. Long may it continue.