When Ben Walker rides into Blenheim on his trusty "Big Red" bike on November 15 he will have travelled around the world to get here.
The former Rapaura Primary School and Marlborough Boys' College student set out on a Make A Wish Foundation charity bike ride from Cape Reinga on Thursday, November 8 - a ride which will take him the length of the country. He plans to finish on the esplanade in Bluff on November 22.
Ben has covered many miles just to get to the start line in the Far North. He attended Otago University for two years after leaving MBC, then set out for the mines of West Australia.
"Four years in the mines, building railways between the port and the mine itself was, on reflection, a great time," said Ben.
"It was a lot of hard work under up to 50 degree heat, but the lifestyle out there in Perth is awesome for young guys . . . you work hard, make a lot of cash and pretty much do whatever you like on your weeks off from the desert," said Ben.
This year Ben decided he needed a break so headed for the Mediterranean and found work on a superyacht.
"I have just finished working on a 110 metre privately-owned boat for the richest man in Russia. It's pretty interesting to see the amount of excess some of these people live with. It's an awesome job though . . . getting paid to cruise around the Med and, while you work hard when the boss is around, there is a lot of play time."
While abroad, Ben decided he wanted to tackle some land-based adventures and see a few more sights in his own country.
He rode a bike from Auckland to Wellington on a whim last year and, after a few friends showed interest in his effort, he thought, "why don't I do it for charity."
"So this time round I've made it a bit more of a challenge and tried to get the word out about doing it for the Make a Wish Foundation NZ.
"Until last year I hadn't been on a bike really since I biked to school back in the seventh form . . . but last year went really well and biking an awesome country like NZ was bloody good fun.
"Hopefully people will join me along the way for the various legs of the journey. There seem to be quite a few keen for the ride from Picton down to Christchurch and also some mates down in Invercargill.
"Other than that, anyone who is keen to join me on any part of the journey would be most welcome to come along for the ride, the company will be plenty appreciated.
"I have a Facebook page which is publicly accessible which has all the details and a bit of a better rundown on what's going on.
"This is a fairly spur-of-the-moment ride, to do some good for a great cause that supports some young people that do it a hell of a lot harder than I've ever had to do it and try to make a little bit of a difference.
"Also to get people involved and show that anyone can do this kind of thing.
"I unfortunately haven't had the time since I decided to do this a month ago to do any good training - the NZ hills are going to make fun of me - as I've been flat out cleaning my Russian oligarch's superyacht, but it's not only very do-able, its going to be heaps of fun too."
The Facebook page url is facebook.com/events/118284821656536/, the donation page is through givealittle.co.nz and the Make a Wish Foundation is at makeawish.org.nz. Ben arrives in Blenheim on November 15 and rides to Kaikoura the next day.
- The Marlborough Express