Cape Reinga in sights of fundraiser cyclists
Outrageous Fortune actor Aidee Walker and a growing band of followers headed out of Queenstown bound for the West Coast on Sunday on the Ride Out of the Blue charity bike ride from Bluff to Cape Reinga. Walker is one of a core group of eight cyclists who set out from Bluff on Saturday morning to ride the length of the country in a bid to raise awareness of depression and suicide. Walker, who played Draska in the television series, was inspired by last year’s inaugural Ride Out of the Blue and determined to help repeat the success. She said the group of mainly women, included grandmothers, mothers, actors and waitresses; people from all walks of life. Some had personal stories they hoped to share along the way to initiate conversation in communities about mental health and reduce stigma surrounding it. ‘‘New Zealand has a devastating suicide rate with 1.5 people taking their lives every day,’’ Walker said. The rates were especially high among youth and Maori and Pacific Island males, she said. ‘‘In order to change these horrifying statistics and reach the most at-risk demographic we will also hold talks at schools to educate young New Zealanders about mental wellbeing.’’ Funds raised will go towards a Mindfulness in Schools initiative, a preventative approach giving youth the skills to deal with their emotions before they became a problem. Other cyclists are joining the group on its 21-day, 2300km ride. Queenstown woman Rachel Kennedy is completing the full ride while husband Jeff Kennedy cycled from Bluff to Wanaka. Twin Rivers Organic Lamb director Hugh Rouse, of Queenstown, was so inspired by the group’s vision at the weekend that he decided to hop on his bike and join the trip also. Twin Rivers supplied an organic spit roast lamb meal for the cyclists in Queenstown on Saturday night. Fellow director Ben McGill said they had a friend in the group and really wanted to support the cause. Ride out of the Blue expects to reach Picton on October 21. The biggest day will be a 157km slog from Westport to St Arnaud. They plan to be at Cape Reinga by November 2.
Peak performers: At the summit on Sunday – Ride Out of the Blue bikers after conquering the Crown Range.