Trio's super scooter fundraiser turns into a rocky ride

By Lindy Laird -
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Matt Cooper, Simon Bristow and Anthony Chalder-Royle celebrate getting to the finish line at Cape Reinga.
Matt Cooper, Simon Bristow and Anthony Chalder-Royle celebrate getting to the finish line at Cape Reinga.

It wasn't just their tiny motor scooters that gave three Kerikeri men the shakes during an epic roadtrip from Bluff to Cape.

As if jolting along over 2000-plus kilometres of road wasn't bone rattling enough, Simon Bristow, Matt Cooper and Anthony Chalder-Royle were rocked a few days into their journey by one of the biggest earthquakes New Zealand has ever felt.

Witnessing a major car accident, sleeping outside rather than in a building as the upper South Island was literally thrown into chaos, a delayed ferry crossing and floods trapping them in Wellington and being stopped by police for going too slow were all par for the course during their seven-day ride on matching Suzuki step-throughs.

Amazingly, they only lost a day off their schedule during the mission to raise funds and awareness for Dr Bristow's chosen charity, Bald Angels, Mr Chalder-Royle's charity, the Champion Centre in Christchurch for special needs children, and Mr Cooper's charity, the Lung Foundation.

On Friday afternoon, the three called in to say hello to the folk at home in Kerikeri, then headed out on Saturday morning to knock off the final leg to Cape Reinga.

They had been accompanied on their journey by crew member Mike Quilter, of New Zealand yachting fame, driving the support vehicle - which started out as a cute and classic Mini Minor.

He was on route to join the Super Scooters (see www.superscooterride.com) at Bluff when his Mini blew up at Gore, forcing Mr Quilter to hire another vehicle to carry the food, refreshments, camping and other gear.

"Then on our first day after leaving Bluff I had to attend a major car accident we came across," Dr Bristow said.

The next two days passed relatively smoothly. The entourage was scheduled to be in Kaikoura on the Sunday night but having made good time, they decided to carry to Blenheim. That's where they were when the earthquake struck just after midnight on Sunday, at 12.02am on November 14.

If they had not carried on they'd have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. As it was, Blenheim was also rocked by the earthquake and aftershocks so badly that, along with others, the Super Scooters spent hours in the carpark of the evacuated hotel.

None of the intrepid scooterists had experienced an earthquake before being caught not far from the epicentre of the second biggest one in New Zealand's history.

"The aftershocks were pretty awful, but after a good while we came back in and went into the restaurant area and saw all the glasses and bottles that had been smashed from the quake. It was absolutely amazing, but scary ... the whole place was shaking like a plate of jelly," Dr Bristow said.

The next day they had a lengthy wait at Picton for the Cook Strait ferry but finally got to Wellington - heading right into a storm causing widespread floods that prevented them leaving the city for a day.

From there it was a two day, blustery and wet ride to Auckland, then the shorter hop to Kerikeri, and on to Cape Reinga - with more than $10,000 raised.

Dr Bristow said that while the epic ride is over, it's not too late for supporters to do their bit by putting their fingers on the "donate" button.

"I for one am knackered and could have spent my week's holiday for the same price in Fiji!"

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