Mission almost done despite theft
A British couple cycling to the Rugby World Cup final in Auckland are back on track after the generosity of three electronics companies.
Tom Hudson and Jodie Burton, both 30, ran into problems last week when someone stole their backpack from the backpackers lodge where they were staying in Picton.
The stolen gear included credit cards, identification, cash, a USB stick with photos of their trip, keys, power cords, phone chargers and personal items.
The gear was stolen on Thursday and after reading about the loss on Friday, all the necessary items were replaced by Dick Smith, JayCar Electronics and Canon for free, Mr Hudson said.
"It's just massive. Wow, it's really nice," he said. "Between the three of them, we are fully back on track and definitely right on schedule for the big scroll unveiling in Palmerston North."
They were overjoyed their gear had been replaced with the donations received in Wellington on Friday.
They celebrated by watching the Australian rugby team trounce Namibia, before cycling to Palmerston North over the weekend.
The couple left Twickenham, England, on May 1, and have cycled across 28 countries and toured the South Island on a budget of $10 a day in their attempt to reach Auckland on October 23 for the final of the cup.
Along the way, they have collected the signatures of 45 rugby greats, including All Black captain Richie McCaw, who finalised the scroll last week in Christchurch.
Meanwhile, the owner of the backpackers lodge where the gear was stolen said he was devastated by the incident.
The owner, who didn't want to be named, said: "It very rarely happens here – we were so shocked to hear about it. But these things can happen anywhere, and sadly more often than not it is the locals who prey on tourists.
"They were such a great pair and we wish them all the best with their ambitions."
Mr Hudson said the theft was an unfortunate hiccup.
But they were excited to be moving forward and being so close to the end of a "monstrous achievement".
Their scroll, titled a "World in Union", will be presented to the museum today.
"We're looking forward to it, really can't wait.
The couple say they plan to emigrate to Australia to start a new life after quitting their jobs in London.