Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

Visually impaired Kiwis take part in challenge

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Ben Geddes is part of a team of visually-impaired people who will complete challenges throughout the North Island. Photo/File
Ben Geddes is part of a team of visually-impaired people who will complete challenges throughout the North Island. Photo/File

Seven visually-impaired New Zealanders will spend time in Rotorua next week as they tackle a series of challenges throughout the North Island.

They will travel 700km 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.

This Sunday the team will paddle a waka from Ohau Channel across Lake Rotorua to Tunohopu Marae before a tandem cycle from Rotorua to Taupo.

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 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.

Hamish Tahana - who lives in Hawke's Bay and originally came from Whanganui - said he was most looking forward to the Whanganui River leg of the race.

The team would speed up the river to Tieke Kainga Marae in a jet boat, then paddle 10-person Canadian canoes back down the river.

He was also interested in the tandem cycle from Rotorua to Taupo following the 100km Flyer cycle route.

He said the event would be a big mental and physical challenge, which would require him to push past what he thought he could do. He said 700km in seven days would be tough.

He hoped the challenge would show the public that the blind and visually-impaired could do as much as fully sighted people, if not more.

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 to follow the team, make a donation or create their own 7 Day Challenge.

The Blind Week street appeal will take place on October 7 and 8. Keep an eye out for street collectors, donate online at or text "donate" to 305 to make a $3 donation during September and October.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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