Words and photos: Liane Clarke
Well — 135 people, 34 vehicles, seven days, 1700 kilometres, countless school visits, heaps of haka, a new name and a new charity partner, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of grants to needy Kiwi kids and a whole heap of fun for everyone involved … the Trillian Trek is over for another year!
From it’s start at a breakfast street party in Matamata a week ago, all the way up the west coast of the North Island to Cape Reinga and back down the east coast to Whangarei the 2017 Trillian Trek has been full-on since Matamata Mayor Jan Barnes handed out the first set of route instructions — right up to the publican at Parua Bay Tavern handing out the first celebratory pint to a grateful (and thirsty) fire truck passenger at the private finish.
This group of people who give up their time to help make a difference in the life of a child are a selfless bunch — a little bit kooky for sure and mad for their vehicles and mad for the cause.
There’s no doubt they love the driving but there’s also no doubt they love the smiles and reactions from the kids and communities visited along the way. Trekkers see how that ride on a fire engine, a first bike, even just a few moments spent being made a fuss of can brighten up a day.
Not all the Trekkers own their own vehicles and not all are able to be part of the whole event. The event owns a number of ‘floater’ vehicles that can be provided to teams without cars or those coming to take part in the event from overseas. Some corporate sponsors sign-up for a day or three on-board a particular car or fire truck, some participants are friends of friends who regularly tag along every year to be part of the good work, some go with different teams each year and some are new to the event and trying to decide whether to take the plunge, build a team and invest in their own vehicle.
All are welcomed and there is plenty of advice on who to go to for help outfitting your car and your team, how to prepare, when you should start preparing and what to expect.
The ‘what to expect’ question is a difficult one for seasoned Trekkers to answer. The experience can’t really be explained in a few words. And the Trek can be quite different depending on who’s in your team, what size your team is, what sort of a vehicle you are in and what experience you have had with non-competitive rallying and fundraising.
Each year there are a number of shorter events which are a great opportunity for those thinking about the week-long commitment. A chance to try out Trek culture and see if it’s for you. Some teams only do the shorter, weekend-long treks as the logistics of the main event can prove too much to co-ordinate.
No matter the level of your involvement, Trekkers pretty much guarantee you will have fun, you will laugh, your heart strings will be tugged, there’ll be some tearful and humbling moments with the kids, you will get wet, and you will make friends for life.
Official route of the 2017 Trillian Trek:
19th March Day 1 — Matamata to Orewa
20th March Day 2 — Orewa to Dargaville
21st March Day 3 — Dargaville to Omapere
22nd March Day 4 — Omapere to Taipa/Coopers Beach
23rd March Day 5 — Taipa to Taipa
24th March Day 6 — Taipa to Russell
25th March Day 7 — Russell to Whangarei