The Far North's Vesparados have achieved their goal of scooting all the way to Bluff, getting there in time for the Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill. Now they are wending their long way home.
They have also done well for their cause, Far North Hospice, which as of Tuesday had benefited to the tune of $5276, plus $2000 paid for a scooter that was auctioned on Trade Me by Vesparado Uncle Pete, which has been delivered to its new home in Taranaki.
One of those who celebrated arriving at Bluff wasn't really a Vesparado, however. String (Irvine) was more a Desperado, Bones (Raewyn Pennell) said. He had made the epic journey aboard a motorcycle as opposed to a scooter, and had had the job of scouting the road ahead to check for potholes that might have been more than a Vespa could comfortably handle.
"We're all heading north again, independently, so fundraising has officially finished, but of course we won't turn any donations down," Raewyn said on Tuesday, adding that she and Rosco had upgraded their Vespa for a new one, which would be towed home to Kaimaumau aboard a trailer.
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The Southland Times reported that the Vesparados had completed their more than 2900km journey from Cape Rēinga to Bluff in 17 days, arriving in Invercargill on Wednesday, after a quick stop in Bluff to enjoy some oysters.
Leader of the pack Rosco Pennell said the friends, all in their 60s and 70s, had begun planning the excursion in March last year, and while the scale of the challenge might have alarmed the uninitiated, these dare devils had been riding together for years, more often in the likes of South America than the highways and byways of New Zealand.
The plan had been to shake their donation buckets at the end of each day's ride, but they hadn't really needed to. The signs and stickers on their support vehicle and trailer had drawn plenty of attention, a group of riders they met on the ferry from Wellington even tracking them down at a rest stop to make a contribution.
"We stopped and all these Harley-Davidsons pulled up. They just about filled our buckets," Rosco said.
Raewyn said the toughest stretches had been from Dargaville to Tūākau, while trying to avoid Auckland, and from Alexandra to Gore, on a cold, rainy day.
"The weather was just fabulous until we got there," she said.