A STRANDED Chinese tourist will continue her cycle tour of New Zealand despite a major setback thanks to the generosity of Wairarapa people.
Offers of help flooded in for young Maya Zhang whose bike and belongings were stolen from outside a Carterton church while on a solo cycle tour of New Zealand.
The Wairarapa Times-Age broke Miss Zhang's story yesterday and has since received many calls and messages from concerned residents who are co-ordinating an effort to replace the young tourist's gear and buy her a new bike.
Carterton Mayor John Booth is one of many people who reached out to help Miss Zhang.
"When I read the story I just felt gutted that such a terrible thing could happen to the poor young lady," he said.
"I'm just really disappointed for this to have happened in my community, especially when she was enjoying the serenity of the beautiful church here," he said.
"She saved up for three years to make this trip to New Zealand happen and it's really sad that some scumbags have destroyed this dream for her."
Mr Booth said there will be more and more Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand in the coming years and that "we don't want anyone to have experienced something so negative in our town, because it really is a wonderful community to live in and visit".
"It's great to now see the community stepping up to make it right for this woman," he said.
Miss Zhang's new-found host in Carterton said she was blown away by the magnitude of support from the Wairarapa community who have offered accommodation, clothes, financial assistance and a new bike.
"This is absolutely brilliant," the woman said.
"It is so encouraging because the situation Maya was put in was just totally unfair, and to have this kind of response is just absolutely fantastic. We'll get this young lady on the road soon enough. She has got to see the South Island, too, doesn't she, so we had better get her going."
When the reporter called Miss Zhang to tell her the good news, she was "shocked, so thankful, and happy" with the generosity from Wairarapa.
"Really? Oh my gosh! Thank you so much," she said.
"This is so sweet of the people here. I can't thank everyone enough, I am so, so touched."
She said she hoped the person who stole her possessions "will read this and give something back".
Ms Zhang has a visa which allows her to work in New Zealand and is looking for a job to build up her funds.