A South Pacific challenge beckons for the group of Maori and Pacific men who completed a 2300km cycle ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff in just 13 days.
The USO Bike Ride pulled into its final destination on Friday, clocking up 600km in the final three days of the journey from Dunedin to Bluff.
Led by Napier man T. Taufale, the ride aimed to raise awareness of men's health, particularly cancer, among the Maori and Pacific communities the cyclists visited during the nationwide ride.
"I believe we are the first group of Maori and Pacific men to cycle from Cape Reinga to Bluff in 13 days," Mr Taufale said. "It is a really good feeling, the bodies are a bit tired and I really think it's going to take a few more days for it to sink in what we've achieved."
Out of the 10 cyclists who set out on the journey, six completed the full ride. The group cycled about 163km per day, stopping in the evenings to attend hui set up for Maori and Pacific people to meet and talk to the riders.
"I think people just looked at us and realised we were a bunch of ordinary guys who were doing something totally out of left field in an attempt to encourage them to live healthier lives.
"And as a result I've heard that some of the men we've met want to get on a bike or have agreed to go and have health check-ups with their doctor, which is one of the things we wanted them to do."
Two other points they raised were healthy living through exercise and diet, and improving access to health and physical activity services.
"One of the messages we got from all of the hui is that Maori and Pacific people have similar health needs and there needs to be better ways for these communities to engage with their health providers.
"People in Christchurch were amazing and at the hui there we had health providers who were keen to see how they could make a better connection and so it's good to see that start to happen already."
Mr Taufale said the most difficult section of the ride was from Blenheim to Kaikoura because of strong winds the whole way.
"We were tired, wet and cold when we got to Kaikoura at the end of that day."
The cyclists had already dropped between 5kg and 15kg in preparing for the journey but lost more weight by the end of the ride.
"It was really noticeable, considering ... we ate heaps. We would get off and have our protein shakes, then a huge feed. Two hours later, another feed. It felt like it was barely touching the sides.
"Everyone was tired and I think it was a case of recharging the batteries before the next day."
Mr Taufale was in Queenstown yesterday before heading back to Hawke's Bay, where he wanted to put the experience to use in his work in Pacific health at the district health board. The information from the hui will be shared with the New Zealand Cancer Society and other health providers.
"We've been talking to the Cancer Society about possibly using this initiative in some form in Samoa. And, of course, when you talk about Samoa you are talking about the whole Pacific.
"So there is a lot of potential there. We just want to take stock of what everyone has been saying and look at what is practical and realistic for us to achieve."