2010 Ride Summary
Saturday May 29 saw more than 230 brave scooterists buzz out of Christchurch mostly on tiny 50cc scooters bound for the wintry Southern Alps. Their goal is to cross the alps, make the 252 kilometers to Hokitika and raise as much money as possible for the Cancer Society.
The Safari is not a race, it was designed to be the coldest, longest, hardest, most grueling and uncomfortable test of endurance on a city scooter to raise money and awareness for cancer sufferers. Riders did this to show their support for the hardship those living with cancer go through during their treatment - the Safari is nothing compared to that!
The Scooter Safari was created and organised by Jayne and Mike Rattray after learning that a young friend and colleague at Air NZ Engineering had bowel cancer. They wanted to do something to thank The Cancer Society for the help they provided to him from the time of diagnosis through treatment and recovery.
Each rider set up a personal fundraising page and gained pledges from friends and family for their efforts.
Participants included cancer patients, survivors, hospital nurses, 60+ Air New Zealand staff and many diehard scooter enthusiasts. The furtherest traveled came from Canberra, Australia. Riders came from all walks of life and from all across NZ - with contingents from as far as Warkworth in the North, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and in the South, Oamaru, West Coast, Darfield, Nelson and Blenheim. The entry list also included Air New Zealand’s CEO Rob Fyfe who rode the full distance to Hokitika.
After an extreme weather bomb in the South the outlook for the journey wasn’t good. Snow fell on the road for several nights before the event, building up the anticipation before the big ride.
The group left Air New Zealand's No. 1 Hangar at 8am in overcast and ominous conditions. First stop was at the Kirwee Tavern for a much needed warm-up. From there the group continued on to the Sheffield Pie Shop at which point the weather started to clear.
The climb up and over Porters Pass was a significant test for the small machines, with some riders forced to get off and push up the steeper slopes. They at least arrived at the snowy summit toasty warm where a small bunch of skiers and snow boarders were getting in some early runs.
The weather was better on the western side but the roads were wet, and grit spread to deal with the snow the previous day made the steeper downhill sections treacherous on two wheels. Several scooterists lost traction causing the odd low speed spill but the worst injury was a broken tail light.
The stop at Lake Lyndon provided opportunity for a play in the Snow. From there the group traveled onto Flockhill Lodge and a lunch stop at the scenic Bealey Hotel.
The weather held back long enough for us to reach Arthur's Pass - the heavy snow clouds sitting above us reminding us how lucky we were. We have since heard that it snowed shortly after passing through.
From Jacksons Hotel the weather cleared into a beautiful West Coast afternoon. With a final regroup and refuel at Kumara Racecourse the group charged triumphantly toward the final destination of the Beachfront Hotel Hokitika - just as the sun was dropping down into the sea.
Finally 10 hours after starting from the Christchurch base, more than 200 surviving scooters buzzed and beeped their way into a shell-shocked Hokitika at sunset to be warmly welcomed by mayor Maureen Pugh and local representatives of the Westland District Council and Cancer Society.
Just getting through with a full complement of fingers and toes was challenge enough for most riders but others came dressed as mad cows, a bumble bee, a couple of gorillas, a viking, Superman, a swag of Santas, the Evel Knievel brothers, flying nuns, fairies and one chap in a chilly looking suit and tie outfit. Bikes were also dressed – as Shrek and Donkey, The General Lee and a Lego City Police bike. A couple featured auxiliary power – one had a tailfin-mounted jet engine and the most spectacular was a full-size Superman giving a flying push to the rear carrier. Still, the gutsiest had to be a standard pushbike fitted with a tiny auxiliary motor.
The event was run with prizes for such things as Most Money Raised, Best Dressed Rider, Oldest Scooter To Complete The Trip and for Best Hard Luck Story. Prizes included flights and accommodation for two to Queenstown (Air NZ), scenic helicopter flights (Helicontrax), Digital Cameras (OfficeMax), Beachfront Hotel Accommodation Vouchers, Riding gear (E-Moto), Petrol Vouchers (CRT) and magazine subscriptions (KiwiRider).
Out of the 230+ scooters starting the safari, we estimate a that only a dozen or so went into retirement due to various mechanical failures.
Last year saw 32 riders and $15,000 raised for the Cancer Society - At time of publishing the 2010 event figure is currently at $121,000 (visit the fundraising summary to see all the fundraisers and totals).
To donate in support of the riders efforts, please click through to the Donate Page
It is anticipated that the Safari will become a Bi-Annual event. The organizers were amazed at the level of interest this year and hope that the event can continue to raise money for a great cause.
Please check-out the Gallery page for a small selection of images
All images can be provided in high resolution print format. Contact the organisers
Many thanks to everyone involved - both riders and sponsors!
Jayne & Mike Rattray
Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari Event Organisers