Marathon drive helps fight cancer
The tractors came to Nelson town yesterday – 50 of them, in fact, driven all the way from Bluff to help raise money to fight child cancer.
The South Island Tractor Trek formed 12 months ago in the hope that 20 tractors would join the cause. Twelve months on, the committee has 50 enthusiasts from all over New Zealand, all eager to travel some of the South Island's back country roads.
The trek started on February 22 in Bluff and will end on March 16, back where it began. Participants will travel about 2500 kilometres at 25kmh and spend more than 100 hours sitting on their respective tractors.
Methven tractor enthusiast Malcolm Nell said that although it sounded like a long time behind the wheel, it was nothing compared to what children suffering from cancer had to go through every day.
"Everybody has families and it's never going to happen to you, but everybody knows somebody who it has happened to."
He said that even though the trek was only half completed, everyone was buzzing, and it had already raised almost $100,000 for the Child Cancer Foundation.
Event convener Maurice Short said the event took almost two years to plan, and though many people might see it as an unlikely hobby, there was nothing like the feeling of driving a tractor, especially cross-country.
"Some people love vintage cars, some people love vintage tractors," he said. "If everybody's hobby was the same, it wouldn't be a very interesting world now, would it?"
The machines and their owners yesterday made their way from Havelock to Wakefield, where today they were to set up shop at the Pigeon Valley Steam Museum for a "boys' day out".
Mr Short said it was a chance for like-minded enthusiasts come along and have a yarn and a good "tyre kick".
Tomorrow they will head to Murchison via St Arnaud and on to Greymouth.
"Happy Hour goes long into the night," Mr Short said.
"Stories will be told of the day's mechanical, humorous, interesting and embarrassing moments, lasting friendships will be forged and ideas for the next trek emerging."
Follow the trek's progress on tractortrek.net.
The Nelson Mail