Hepa Paewai and his Dannevirke side-kick, Barry Scott, aren't about to get saddle weary as they map the local stage of the Great New Zealand Trek.



And for the expected 300 trekkers, the traverse from Tikokino to Akitio Beach isn't about roughing it either. They'll be dining on gourmet fare, cared for by a team of massage therapists, and relaxing with hot rock massages.



"It's not too arduous for those taking part and they're certainly not roughing it," Mr Scott said. "Once they get down to Clive Jewiss' property on the outskirts of Dannevirke, there will be a day off too, so they can come into town.



"We spent all day on a bike a week ago checking out part of the stage-seven route through the Tararua, but Hepa is on to it all. Hepa and I are like brothers and were brought up together so we know everyone down here on the farms the trek is going to pass through. Local farmers couldn't be more helpful. In fact, they've been absolutely brilliant."

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The Great New Zealand trek began in 2006, raising money for multiple sclerosis research and this year it's being extended into the Tararua with stage seven beginning at Smedley Station in Tikokino on March 10.



More than 300 riders are expected to take part in the 194km stage through Central Hawke's Bay to the Tararua.



From Smedley Station the trek will travel the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges, through native bush, including a 4km trek down a stream. On day three, trekkers will camp alongside the Manawatu River at Norsewood before crossing the river the next day to head to the Jewiss farm. After a relaxing rest day, the trek will head east towards Weber and then out to Pipibank Station at Herbertville. On the final day, the route crosses historic coastal stations, ending up at Moanaroa Station at Akitio.



For more information visit the website: greatnewzealandtrek.com