The men and women who raced through the Bay of Plenty in cheap old cars as part of a debut rally raised $380,000 for cancer research.

Two weeks ago, 150 people took part in the first Shitbox Rally NZ - a car race that wound through North Island roads to raise money for much needed cancer research programmes with the Cancer Society of New Zealand and Cancer Council Australia.

The 75 teams, armed with cable ties, gaffer tape and a whole lot of courage, travelled more than 2500km in seven days.

Craig Holland, 26, Mark Houston, 26, both from Sydney, took part in the 2016 Shitbox Rally. Photo/file
Craig Holland, 26, Mark Houston, 26, both from Sydney, took part in the 2016 Shitbox Rally. Photo/file

Teams were mostly from Australia, with several from New Zealand including a couple from Gisborne and the Manawatu.

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Teams dressed in their finest Smurf costumes, animal onesies and Viking robes for the first day of the rally, which began and ended in Auckland.

Read more: Iconic charity rally to hit Tauranga

The rally worked its way through Inglewood, Mount Ruapehu, Woodville via Taumarunui and Mangamahu, Hastings via Akitio and Blackhead Beach, Kuripapango, Rotorua and Tolaga Bay, before heading around the East coast to Opotiki and through to Tauranga before returning to Auckland.

Organisers said what began as a group of 150 strangers had became a tight-knit, albeit extended, family.

"The first international rally really delivered," said James Freeman, rally founder and director. "It was completely different driving and landscapes to anything we are used to in Australia.

"New Zealand is a place of breathtaking beauty, wonder and some of the most amazing roads in existence - even if driving a shitbox.

"I am thrilled with the first NZ rally and can't wait to come back," said Mr Freeman said.