Pair win global hunt

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Kiwi in­ge­nu­ity and a sense of ad­ven­ture helped a for­mer Mata­mata cou­ple take out the ti­tle of the World’s Great­est Trav­ellers ear­lier this month.

Saskia van Waai­jen­burg and part­ner An­drew Par­son­age ven­tured 40,000 kilo­me­tres around the globe to win the 2012 Global Scav­enger Hunt – a com­pe­ti­tion sim­i­lar to the Amaz­ing Race.

The cou­ple, who met at Mata­mata Col­lege, were one of 20 twop­er­son teams to travel through 11 coun­tries in 23 days, re­ly­ing on strangers they met to com­plete var­i­ous tasks.

‘‘We work so well as a team,’’ said Ms van Waai­jen­burg. ‘‘I have no prob­lem chat­ting to peo­ple and try­ing crazy things and An­drew is great at read­ing maps and tak­ing care of the lo­gis­ti­cal side. We just did what we would usu­ally do when we go trav­el­ling.’’

This was the first year New Zealand was rep­re­sented in the com­pe­ti­tion, with a South Auck­land team also com­pet­ing.

Work­ing as a his­tory teacher in Auck­land, Ms Waai­jen­burg said the cou­ple jumped at the chance to en­ter the race.

‘‘ An­drew is an in­vest­ment banker and works such long hours so we don’t get to spend much time to­gether. We re­ally liked the idea of turn­ing up at an air­port, not know­ing where we were go­ing and hav­ing to re­ally rely on each other to get things done.’’

Start­ing in San Fran­cisco, the teams trav­elled through Burma, Thai­land, Sri Lanka, Oman, Cy­press, Italy, Rome, Slove­nia, Aus­tria, and Prague, end­ing up in Washington DC.

Some of the tasks in­cluded eat­ing a rat­tlesnake in Tai­wan, play­ing soc­cer at an or­phan­age in Burma, walk­ing 39,000 steps across Rome to find Ro­mu­lus and Re­mus and buy­ing a goat from a mar­ket in Oman.

The race is de­signed to test par­tic­i­pants’ over­all travel IQ, in­clud­ing over­com­ing lan­guage bar­ri­ers, in­ter- cul­tural com­pe­tence and lo­gis­tic chal­lenges.

Ms Waai­jen­burg has vis­ited 90 coun­tries and aims to reach 100 be­fore she turns 40 in five years’ time.

‘‘I’m hap­pi­est when I’m camp­ing out in a tent in a place I have never been be­fore.’’

The in­trepid cou­ple won free en­try into the race next year when they will de­fend their ti­tle.

World’s Great­est Trav­ellers: For­mer Mata­mata cou­ple Saskia van Waai­jen­burg and part­ner An­drew Par­son­age walked for 11 hours to find Ro­mu­lus and Re­mus as part of the 2012 Global Scav­enger Hunt.

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