Auckland couple celebrate 40 years by traversing continents

Trevor and Audrey Stafford say a highlight was seeing Mt Everest on a clear day.
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Trevor and Audrey Stafford say a highlight was seeing Mt Everest on a clear day.

Motorbikes have always been a key part of Trevor and Audrey Stafford's relationship.

Trevor showed Audrey his bike the second day they met, then on their honeymoon they drove a motorbike around Europe.

So it was only fitting that the pair celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with an 84-day ride across Europe and Asia.

The pair had breakfast in a hot air balloon over Cappadocin, Turkey.
Audrey Stafford

The pair had breakfast in a hot air balloon over Cappadocin, Turkey.

The Auckland couple has just returned from their trip which started in London.

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The Staffords traversed 21,044 kilometres over 12 weeks.
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The Staffords traversed 21,044 kilometres over 12 weeks.

The pair arrived in London on their anniversary - March 26 - and spent a month sorting out what was to come, Trevor said.

"We travelled to 17 countries so the plan was to find a motorbike, to get all the visas. Insurance was a headache," he said.

They left London on April 21 and started their journey which would culminate in Beijing, China 84 days later.

Trevor and Audrey Stafford at the border of Azerbaijan.
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Trevor and Audrey Stafford at the border of Azerbaijan.

The route had been worked out for them by a company they were going with, Globebusters, which runs the tour every two years.

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Armed with four pairs of socks and four pairs of underwear, they were with about 18 riders. Audrey was the only female to complete the 12-week ride.

Trevor said riding a motorbike unites people.

They camped in the desert and visited 17 countries over the trip.
Audrey Stafford

They camped in the desert and visited 17 countries over the trip.

"You get a sense of freedom and you've got friends worldwide," he said.

Over the course of their more than 21,000 kilometre journey, they encountered a variety of people and things.

The famous Pamir Highway was, at times, a dirt track full of potholes.

"You'd go around the corner and there was a herd of sheep. If you went over the side, it was straight down," Trevor said.

Most days they rode for six to eight hours and locals were taken aback to see caucasian faces and large bikes.

"We were going into very poor conditions, whey they saw a huge motorcycle the first thing they ask is how much. When we tell them, they fall over," Trevor said.

"It was like we were from another planet."

In the "stan" countries, there was a black market for petrol with merchants selling it on the side of the road using cut-up coke bottles as funnels.

The pair agreed that the highlight was riding to the Mt Everest base camp.

"To be there with the highest point on planet earth in front of you was amazing," Trevor said.

The Torbay couple also took 30 soft toy kiwis which they left with children in countries along the way.

When they finally reached China, it took 18 hours to be processed to cross the border.

Despite such a long journey, the pair say at the end they felt stimulated.

"When you're on a bike you have to concentrate 100 per cent of the time," Trevor said.

"We got to Beijing and were bursting with health and fitness.

They experienced temperatures from -2 degrees celsius in the Himalayas to 42 degrees in the deserts of Turkmenistan.

They camped in deserts and rode through snow and went to Bosnia, just for lunch.

The couple returned home in late July and have been sharing their story with local groups.

 - Stuff

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