A trio of backpackers made their way to Whangarei at the weekend as part of an Olympian feat.
Ex-pat Kiwi Luigi Paroli, 53, now living in California, US, his brother Beni Paroli, 51, from Otaki, and nephew Detective Sergeant Sarn Paroli, 35, from Levin, are tramping from Cape Reinga in support of Special Olympics New Zealand.
The Parolis arrived in Whangarei on Saturday after leaving Cape Reinga on December 1. They met with athletes from Special Olympics Whangarei during their stopover, with Mayor Morris Cutforth among the welcoming crowd. The group visited markets and other activities where people generously donated to the fundraising campaign for Special Olympics.
Continuing along the 3000km Te Araroa Trail (The Long Pathway) from Cape Reinga to Bluff, the men hope to get to Wellington at the start of February before crossing the Cook Strait, and finishing in Bluff in April.
Their effort is affiliated to the international Law Enforcement Torch Run fundraising movement for Special Olympics.
More than 90,000 law enforcement professionals and supporters across 35 countries participate in the LETR, which includes torch relays and fundraising events held ahead of Special Olympics competitions.
A Law Enforcement Torch Run New Zealand Charitable Trust was launched in October, with Sarn one of the trustees.
Wellington-born, Luigi Paroli has been based in the US for 25 years but his heart still resides in New Zealand. He has completed several long-distance walks, notably the 3476km Appalachian Trail in the US, and the 4120km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. which he filmed as a documentary for Television New Zealand.