Taking on the Mongolian Rally

By Eveline Harvey

New Zealander Matthew Kennedy-Good will be blogging for nzherald.co.nz about his team's Mongolian Rally experiences

It goes without saying that the Great Kiwi OE is a time of adventure, but for three London-based New Zealanders about to embark on the ultimate roadtrip - The Mongolian Rally - the adventure is possibly about to become an issue of survival.

Intrepid crew member Matthew Kennedy-Good is the first to admit his family wasn't thrilled about his decision to take on the harrowing 10,000 mile (16,000km) journey from London to Ulan Bator.

But he says everyone else he knows is supporting the endeavour and it makes for a good talking point.

"Realistically the biggest problem will be bad drivers on the roads," he says.

"I'm not too worried about bandits and things like that. The more serious danger is having an accident."

Kennedy-Good, 29, will be joined on the road by his friends Chris Wilkie and Marta Wocjikovski.

Of the three, Kennedy-Good jokes he is probably going to be the least helpful in the event of a breakdown.

"I've never even owned a car before, I don't even know how to change the oil," he admits.

But, he concedes, he does know how to drive and he's relying on the fact he's travelled fairly extensively already to get him through the six weeks on the road.

The rally is primarily a charity fundraiser, with all teams required to raise a minimum of £1000 pounds (NZ$2,621) before they begin.

Kennedy-Good's team has selected to support two children's charities based in some of the countries they will traverse en route to Mongolia.

The rally rules state that all cars used in the rally must have an engine capacity of one litre or less, though the organisers are a little flexible on this point and will allow larger engines - provided the team concerned pays an extra £100 pounds to their chosen charity for every decilitre (0.1 litre) they stray over the limit.

Other than that, the rules are fairly flexible. There's no set route to Ulan Bator and the emphasis is not so much on crossing the finish line as it is on having a lot of fun along the way.

"We've probably chosen the hardest route but the most interesting," Kennedy-Good says.

His team has purchased a red 1995 Subaru Justy 4WD to transport them from the stately surrounds of London's Hyde Park to the barren steppes of central Asia.

Since buying it several weeks ago, Kennedy-Good reports that the muffler has already fallen off.

He acknowledges travelling with two other people in a small car for almost two months will add to the tension but says his more pressing concerns are of the language barriers the team will encounter along the way.

"I've been to Turkey before but nothing past there," he says.

"We won't even be able to read Cyrillic, I was going to learn it but I ran out of time."

But despite the potential difficulties, Kennedy-Good says he's looking forward to the challenge.

"The idea is to have fun and meet the locals while raising money for some really good causes.

"Hopefully we can do all that and get as far as possible without the car falling to bits on us."

* Kennedy-Good and his team departed from London's Hyde Park on Saturday. We are awaiting his first blog from the road.

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