Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari

More than 30 tiny scooters rode triumphant into Hokitika on Saturday having conquered the Southern Alps in the first Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari.

It was too much for some scooters who finished the trip on trailers but Event organiser Jayne Rattray pronounced their mission – to raise funds for the Cancer Society – a fizzing success. They had raised more than $8,000 at last count with the target of $10,000 well within reach. The website will stay live for sometime, so we hope that more will flow through over the coming days.

“We will definitely do it again next year,” said Jayne. “So many more people said they want to do it too.”

Thirty-one riders on an array of tiddly scooters, mostly 50cc and none over 200cc, set off from Air New Zealand’s Christchurch engineering base before dawn on Saturday, a buzzing convoy adding a tinge of blue smoke to the early morning fog.

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe, who rides a Ducati motorbike in Auckland, changed down to a 50cc scooter for the first hour of the ride, but wanted to keep going.

Four Air New Zealand engineers, Wayne Cook, Mike Rattray, Ben Walker, and Damion Haines came up with the idea to ride scooters coast to coast. Inspired by a young colleague diagnosed with bowl Cancer that very same week it became clear that they should do it for a cause, the Cancer Society – from the start they were right there supporting their mate. From there, Jayne put on her marketing cap and went to work to spread the word and bring in the dollars.

“We thought that if he’s going to endure a sore butt from his surgery, then we should get sore butts too!” says Mike

Air New Zealand offered to fly four engineers and their scooters from the Auckland base down to join them. Word spread. Friends and colleagues scrounged scooters to come too, and a group of West Coast scooterists trailered their bikes over to ride back in first Scooter Safari. In Darfield another 6 riders who had salvaged long-forgotten scooters from farm sheds and 2-tag teams from Harcourt’s Marlborough also joined the posse.

“The older and smaller the scooter, the better,” says Wayne. “Everyone knows a big bike can do it.”

Despite frequent stops to regroup and refuel bikes and riders the group soon spread out. Porters Pass took a heavy toll, several riders having to paddle along or even get off a push, shedding layers of clothes along the way.

Residents all along the route came out to clap and cheer the buzzing, beeping convoy.

“Near Jacksons I saw a lady waving something,” says Mike. “It looked like money so I went back. I told her she could see us on TV that night but she told me she was blind. She’d heard about us on the radio and listened out for us so she could give us her $5.”

The West coast turned on spectacular weather but a long day at full throttle saw both Wayne’s 1987 Honda Lead and Ben’s 1986 Honda Flush burn out at Kumara Junction just 20km short of the finish line.

Ben said he was a bit dejected but a huge welcome from clapping and cheering Coasters changed that. “I had a tear in my eye,” he said. “It felt like we’d done something worthwhile.”

“The Cancer Society is delighted that The Scooter Safari participants are publicly acknowledging the Cancer Society for support of their friend and colleague. Because of this special support the Cancer Society will be able to continue providing help to others.” …Liz Chesterman, Chief Executive, Cancer Society

“We’d like to thank all our sponsors, especially to Air New Zealand for all their support and funding. To the scheduled stops who put on hot drinks and soup. To the Darfield Shell station for the petrol, the Arthurs Pass Store and café who shouted all our riders free lunch. Horton Signs, Rangiora for the pilot vehicle signage, City Scooters for the the extra bike, TV3 for the fantastic News coverage. The list goes on….
We have been blown away by all the encouragement and support. Last, but certainly not least, to the riders who endured sore butts for 10 hours. Without you, we couldn’t have done it – Thank you to all involved! Together we have made a real difference to cancer sufferers”

Photos on Facebook

TV3 News coverage

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