Whangarei couple Peter Schouten and Els Van Drunen were getting sick of the amount of rubbish they saw on the side of the road during their regular bicycle rides and decided to do something about it.
But after four hours cleaning up along Vinegar Hill Rd on Saturday they were shocked to discover the discarded trash they found filled a trailer. They went on both sides of the road from the bridge at the Tikipunga end, to the top of the hill - about 2.5km in total - and their haul left them disgusted.
Schouten said the pair were sick of seeing rubbish at the sides of the roads when they cycled around rural Whangārei so thought they'd do something on their on road.
''It's just disgusting what we found. It's a total disrespect for the environment. I'm really concerned about the people who do this,'' he said.
''It's all thrown from passing vehicles and some will be people who live in rural areas - they are ruining their own areas.''
Schouten said a lot of the trash was fast-food wrappers, beer and soft drink bottles and cans, plastic coffee cup lids and plastic straws - and even an intact ''boom box'' stereo.
''I think a lot of that plastic - lids and straws - should be banned. They don't disintegrate like the cardboard and paper does.''
The couple took the rubbish to the Whangārei Re:Sort centre yesterday with Whangārei District Council paying the dumping costs, but Schouten said it was a shame the couple had to pick up so much of other people's rubbish.
The Keep New Zealand Beautiful Clean Up week is on now and the couple expect to do another clean up this Saturday on the other side of the hill on Vinegar Hill Rd.
And they are urging others to get out and clean up their neighbourhood - but ultimately they want the public to get the message not to dump their rubbish at the side of the road, but to dispose of it properly, and legally.
''If we can get this from one road in a few hours I reckon there will be at least 200 trailer-loads at the sides of the roads across Whangārei,'' Schouten said.
''We cycle those roads a lot and see Jordan Valley Rd, Pipiwai Rd and Kara Rd as being particularly bad.''