A Chinese tourist left stranded after her bike and belongings were stolen last month is farewelling Wairarapa with thanks as she continues on her journey around New Zealand.
Maya Zhang was visiting a church in Carterton last month when her possessions were stolen. The theft stranded the 26-year-old in Wairarapa and unable to complete her cycle tour, which she had worked for three years to embark upon.
People and businesses from around Wairarapa have since reached into their pockets and have worked together to buy her a new bike, from Happy Valley Cycles in Masterton, and other essentials like a tent and camping gear from Bivuoac Outdoor.
The Wairarapa Times-Age visited Miss Zhang yesterday afternoon to see her off on her journey to the South Island. She leaves before 10am today.
Region provides amazing experience for Zhang
Even though I'm alone, I feel like I'm with family."I never expected anything like this to happen after my bike and belongings were stolen," she said.
"I've had so many exciting experiences and it's been a big adventure for me here.
"I think people here are the reason I kept going. Even though I'm alone, I feel like I'm with family. Thank you so much to all the people here."
Miss Zhang had her new tent set up on the lawn outside her homestay's house in Carterton yesterday, and boasted of how much she loved it.
"It's such a big one, don't you think? Like a 5-star hotel," she said.
Among the many experiences Miss Zhang enjoyed in Wairarapa was her official welcome at the Papawai Marae in Greytown.
"I experienced the Maori culture there and it was something I have never experienced before. It's just so wonderful and beautiful," she said.
"I never expected this reaction to my story. Back in my home, people will also do some kind gestures, but not as much as this.
"If the newspaper hadn't published my story, I wouldn't have been able to have these experiences.
"I will come back. Definitely."