Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

Visually impaired Kiwis take part in challenge

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Tuhua, Mayor Island, is a beautiful place, with daunting coastlines. PHOTO/FILE
Tuhua, Mayor Island, is a beautiful place, with daunting coastlines. PHOTO/FILE

Sailing, biking and climbing are sometimes daunting enough - but try tackling these tasks with sight loss.

A Tauranga man hopes to raise awareness of the opportunities available to the visually impaired by undertaking a series of gruelling challenges this week.

Seven New Zealanders with sight loss will travel 700km across the North Island in seven days for the Blind Foundation's inaugural 7 Day Challenge beginning this Saturday.

Blind Foundation chief executive Sandra Budd said the participants would undertake a series of physical challenges as they made their way from Tauranga to Wellington.

The event included sailing to Tuhua (Mayor Island) wildlife refuge in a modern waka, doing the Taupo Flyer bike ride and climbing Mt Tongariro, she said.

Ben Geddes, of Tauranga, said he wanted to get involved in the challenge to raise awareness of the opportunities available to blind and visually impaired people.

He was most looking forward to the Tongariro Crossing, which he had never done before, and sailing to Mayor Island.

He said he had done a lot of yachting and thought he might be able to help his teammates out with that leg of the challenge. He thought the cycling leg would be the most difficult.

Mr Geddes said he didn't know any of the others taking part in the challenge.

"It will be really good to meet some new people."

He hoped the event would help the public understand the variation between people with sight loss. Many thought blind people couldn't see anything, but there was a huge variety of different visual problems, he said.

Ms Budd said the 7 Day Challenge was a chance for the participants to push their physical and mental boundaries.

"They will have the opportunity to broaden their horizons, while showing New Zealand what we at the Blind Foundation already know - that people who are blind or have low vision can live a life without limits and achieve extraordinary things."

There would be sighted support crew on hand to help guide the participants on their journey.

The team would arrive in the capital on October 7 to coincide with the Blind Foundation's Blind Week street collection, said Ms Budd.

People could go to 7daychallenge.org.nz to follow the team, make a donation or create their own 7 Day Challenge.

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The Blind Week street appeal will take place on October 7 and 8. There will be street collectors, or donate online at blindweek.org.nz or text "donate" to 305 to make a $3 donation during September and October.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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