• July 5, 2022
The ROVE team are taking a longer, more scenic route up the country. The trip will take them three months. Photo: supplied
A group of adventuring environmentalists is cycling up the country’s scenic route, volunteering with community conservation projects along the way.
ROVE (Restore Our Valued Earth) is Tim Bright, Claire Cannon, Laura and Thomas McKellar.
They met at the University of Otago’s tramping club and say they wanted to do an adventure with meaning.
A cycling trip seemed like the best option, though none of them had any experience with cycle touring.
Bright says they each have slightly different reasons for embarking on the journey but hopes their 4000km trip inspires people to go to their local community conservation days.
One of the volunteer organisations they have helped is Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust in Wanaka. The trust plants around 5000 native plants on public land every year.
On a community volunteer day, ROVE brought additional friends to help in planting 250 native trees.
Loren Verpillot, the trust manager, says the group stayed around to help with mulching the trees which was “pretty hardcore because it was their day off from biking”.
She says Te Kākano Aotearoa's mission is to “connect people with the land through hands-on participation” and hopes the group will help raise its profile with use of social media.
ROVE has been documenting its journey through social media and is looking at other ways to collate information they have learned into an accessible resource.
Cannon says it’s been great learning from people who have “such a wealth of knowledge” about conservation.
Bluff to Cape Reinga: the ROVE team are (from left): Laura McKellar, Claire Cannon, Tim Bright and Thomas McKellar.
Listen to Tim Bright talk to Alex Cairns about the ideas behind ROVE:
Group members have also engaged with the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environment Trust, Ōhau Conservation Trust and will soon be helping the banded rail, blue penguins and laying trap lines at the top of the South Island.
The group say the trip hasn’t been without challenges. From Bluff they were battered by 30kt winds, horizontal rain and made a few navigational mistakes, says Bright.
“Early on we kind of battled. You kind of get a sore arse . . . we’re toughening up in that sense,” says Laura McKellar.
She says during that period, they were disappointed to find all the bakeries were closed. “We were starved for pies that first 10 days."
Cannon says the team now divides up navigational duties and “map out all the Four Squares and the bakeries".
The team found a three-month gap where they could take time off work to do the self-funded trip. They have a Give a Little page where all donations will go to the environmental groups they have supported along the way.
“It’s actually showing that these groups are around in our communities,” says Laura.
“The best thing is if someone looks up their local group and actually goes to a planting day,” she says.
They aim to complete their trip at Cape Reinga on July 17.