Old fire trucks, refurbished limousines, police cars, vintage cars and other themed vehicles were amongst a charity rally that rolled into three lucky schools within the Waipa and Otorohanga districts earlier this month.
Students at Arohena, Wharepapa South and Paterangi schools were all excited and surprised when the vehicles showed up to their schools.
The students at Wharepapa South School even climbed their way aboard a fire truck – that travelled all the way up from Christchurch – to have a dance party.
The only similarity the unique vehicles have is a flag they all fly.
This flag represents the Trek Fundraiser, formerly the Variety Bash, which is an annual charity rally event that raises funds and donates items to backcountry schools and children in need.
This year marks its 31st anniversary and the team visited 15 schools, 1600 kids and they gave out close to $14,000 worth of donations.
Since its beginnings, the event has raised over $14 million for Kiwi kids.
The trek would not be possible without supporting partners, including major sponsor Ford – South Auckland Motors and AA Roadservice and the Royal New Zealand Air Force covering vehicle maintenance where needed.
The rally started in Whanganui on April 10 and finished at Lake Rotoiti on April 16, along the way they stopped in Ohakune, Napier, Wairakei and Te Awamutu.
A donation of $1000 towards camp fees was given to Arohena School.
"It's awesome for these kids from a small school to be able to get out and do all the fun things," says Arohena School teacher Shannon Newman.
Wharepapa South School also received a donation of $1000 to go towards camp fees, and the trek team put on a barbecue lunch.
At Paterangi School, four lucky students got given a BMX bike each and the school got a cheque donation.
"You can see from the smiles on our kids' faces that they're really appreciative, it's been very lucky for our school, it's wonderful," says Paterangi School principal Mark Harrop.
Ten years ago, Mark Wilson was one of the kids the Trek Fundraiser helped – and now he is a part of the team.
Mark has cerebral palsy and when he was born it was assumed he would never walk or talk but he defied those challenges.
He even went on to represent New Zealand in table tennis and competed at the Paralympics – it was the Trek Fundraiser team who helped to get him to the competition.
In the end they offered him so much more though.
"Once I got to college, obviously being a bit different I was a target for the bullies. I started distancing myself from my peers and I wasn't getting involved in activities like I normally would," says Mark.
"But when I came on board the trek they just accepted me for who I was and saw past my disability and became the friends that I was lacking at school."
And now he has his own fire truck – 'The Flying Dutchmen', that he co-owns with two of his cousins.
The fire truck was given to them by a past participant of the trek.
Fortunately and to their relief, the fire truck made it along the whole trek this year. Last year the engine blew up on day two and that was the end of the road for it.
Mark says he does the trek because seeing the smile on kids' faces is priceless.
"We travel around parts of the country each year visiting schools, giving away grants, just trying to help in the community where we can – nothings too small and no community should be forgotten about even if it's out in the sticks, we try really reach those types of communities," says Mark.