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Cyclist fundraiser's East Cape leg for Make-a-Wish foundation

CYCLIST and fundraiser extraordinaire David Cunningham found himself turning around and coming to Gisborne when he couldn't get into Auckland.

The Paraparaumu resident started his Make-a-Wish Foundation fundraising campaign in Bluff on October 25, aiming to cycle the length of New Zealand.

He was making his way towards Auckland with Cape Reinga as his final destination.

But Covid restrictions meant Auckland “wouldn't let me in”.

He turned around and headed for the Coromandel, through the Bay of Plenty and on to East Cape.

His original route had kept David on the west coast of both islands.

“The 186 kilometre, seven-and-a-half-hour-long ride from Te Araroa to Gisborne has been the longest leg of the trip,” he said.

“Most days are around 120km.”

He first cycled around the East Coast at the age of 20 and admits it's a tougher trip now he's 57.

David's goal is to raise $30,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“The mission of this wonderful charity is to grant the wishes of New Zealand children who have critical illnesses, to give them hope, strength and joy,” he said.

“Every wish is as unique and special as each child and is only limited by the child's imagination.”

David says he admires the Make-a-Wish volunteers he has met on his travels.

He met one Make-a-Wish recipent, Rosie, in Nelson in November.

“She had just received her wish for a Hippocampe buggy which allows her to go on the beach and in the water.

“Some of my fundraising has funded her wish.”

David, and his family who support him on the road in a motor home, stayed in the Waikanae Beach Top 10 Holiday Park while in Gisborne.

He makes a point of staying in commercial camping facilities to support local economies.

The devastating effect of Covid-19 on the tourism industry has been obvious.

Some roads and highways have been deserted and David recalls a sad sight in the tourism mecca of Milford Sound.

He cruised the famous fjords on a vessel capable of carrying 250 passengers.

Only seven were on board.

The avid cyclist estimates he has cycled about 4000 kilometres.

Pouring rain, brutal winds and challenging sections such as climbing the Remarkables have contrasted with viewing the country's spectacular scenery.

Unlike many cyclists, he offers high praise for motorists he has shared the roads with.

Motorists will show respect and care if you make yourself highly visible, he said.

His route from Bluff has taken in Te Anau, Queenstown, Wanaka, Haast, up the West Coast to Nelson, over the Takaka Hill, Picton, Paraparaumu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Waitomo, Raglan.

David then went on to Pukorokoro/Miranda in the Firth of Thames before realising he would have to wait until Auckland's borders open on December 15 to complete his trip.

“It is certainly proving to be the long route given it's only about 1500km from Bluff to Cape Reinga as the crow flies,” he said.

David's fundraising campaign can be supported on givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/riding-around-NZ

SEEKING YOUR SUPPORT: Make-a Wish Foundation cyclist and fundraiser David Cunningham rests at Waikanae Beach Top 10 Holiday Park before resuming his Bluff to Cape Reinga trip. He estimates he has ridden more than 4000 kilometres. Picture supplied