Flying Kiwis on scooters plan island crossing
18 May 2010
Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari - Christchurch to Hokitika
29 May 2010
A bunch of intrepid Kiwis on scooters are preparing to brave New Zealand’s Southern Alps on a winter-time expedition - the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari - that will take them across the South Island.
Riders will set off from Christchurch on 29 May to travel the 250km to Hokitika on the West Coast.
The endurance ride - across the Canterbury Plains, through the mountains and along the rugged west coast - aims to raise funds for the New Zealand Cancer Society.
The Arthur's Pass route through the Southern Alps is one of New
Zealand's great drives, and a popular route for motorists in cars and
campervans but not usually on scooters.
Air NZ on scooters
Scooter Safari organiser Jayne Rattray says about 170 people have registered as riders, including Air New Zealand staff and their chief executive Rob Fyfe - who also participated in the inaugural ride in 2009.
The original fund-raising journey was inspired by the plight of an Air New Zealand work colleague who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
"We thought if he’s going to get a sore butt, then we should too!"
Since then, they had been very humbled by the amount of support they had received from Kiwis - and not just the riders, Rattray said.
Scooter riders have to provide their own scooters and support crews. Each rider also has a web page soliciting donations from friends and family to support the ride.
Food and drink provided at the stops along the ride is subsidised by local businesses in return for a small donation to cover costs.
Tranz Alpine scenery
The Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari follows a scenic route with refuelling stops along the way. Highway highlights include Arthur’s Pass National Park, Otira summit, heritage hotels and homesteads, and quirky local eateries.
"The highlight of the trip is the spectacular scenery through the pass to Hokitika, made even more beautiful by the snow-capped peaks. My favourite destination will be lunching at the Bealey Hotel."
The Bealey Hotel is on the edge of Arthur’s Pass, in the heart of the Southern Alps - within a 30-minute drive of five ski fields.
Other refuelling stops include ’hot cuppas’ at Kirwee Tavern near Christchurch, classic Kiwi meat pies at the award-winning Sheffield Pie Shop, and muffins and tea at Flockhill Lodge on the Great Alpine Highway.
The final part of the ride will follow the West Coast’s Great Alpine Highway, a region of diverse scenery, terrain and climate.
Trans Alpine travel
The TranzAlpine train service - one of New Zealand’s best scenic train rides - offers a different style of coast-to-coast crossing.
The TranzAlpine runs daily between Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass and Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island - and chugs its way through the misty mountains of the majestic Southern Alps.
The train goes through Canterbury’s famous Waimakariri Gorge, the Otira Tunnel, past the little railway town of Otira, and the Brunner mine - now a heritage tourist attraction.
Air New Zealand operates flights from Christchurch to Hokitika. From there, travellers can take a bus, coach or train to Greymouth, the largest town on the South Island’s West Coast.
Hokitika is an old gold mining town founded in 1864, and a popular West Coast tourist destination. Hokitika attractions include the Hokitika Sock Machine Museum - which has a display of antique sock-knitting machines, a 3D digital cinema, restaurants and cafes.
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