The Desert Duel

Ten days in an SUV driving around the north island of New Zealand on a 3000kms trek through the countryside was how I spent the last week and a bit. It was a magical experience, 20 cars as part of a convoy on an epic journey raising money for the Paralympics and other organisations.

It started in Auckland and finished with my liver soaking up the vast majority of New Zealand’s red wine supply. I played the role of navigator mostly but when in the Walker brother’s car you could say I was a tipsy backseat dweller, I blame Scotty mostly. Charity may have been the driver on this trek but fun was the fuel.

I survived the Walker boys car, but only just.

When you get 47 people who mostly have done this before on many other desert duels around Australia a certain camaraderie develops, that was evident in the banter between cars on the radio and especially at night during the dinners when awards were announced like ‘dummy of the day’.

With Phil, Lisa and Allan at the welcome dinner.

The resident dummy did have to wear an orange bowtie the next day, I did win the ‘DD’ award on the first night for a mad scramble to get my passport renewed which required a lot of begging at the passport office the day before my flight just to make it to New Zealand, first class dumb behavior on my part.

At Cape Reinga with Karen and John, notice my bowtie, as if i’m not colourful enough.

One of the best things on this ‘desert duel’ was the car hoping, even though the Walker boys threatened the leave my wheels behind at every pit stop they were a riot, Phil may have aimed for every roadkill we came across but he also waved at every local on the side of the road, Karen made me laugh with her ‘Karenisms’ and to the answer of “Where do those furry Kiwi’s live?”, Tash came out with “we should just look up their address”, hilarious.

The Soul Sisters, Karen and Tash.

Brian was fascinating as a former boss of a major record label, Belinda Green had me riveted when she told me about the night she was crowned Miss World and Lisa and I got into a discussion about Game of Thrones that seemed to last for hours and the ‘back up boys’ had me giggling as they carried on like an old married couple.

Hokianga Harbour

Some of the roads were tricky and it rained almost constantly but the places we saw stretching from one end of the top island of New Zealand to the other were magical. From the rocky crashing of the waves at Cape Palliser to the very northern tip at Cape Reinga Lighthouse, our ANZAC neighbors really do have a beautiful country.

Cape Palliser

The walker boys had  The Horse Race down the middle of restaurant row in Rotorua, we flipped coins into a boot at Hobbiton (The Lord of the Rings movie set), the sea lions snorted at us in Cape Palliser, we survived the 100 year flood at Miranda Holiday Park, we became ‘Gangsters and Molls’ in Napier and travelled the ‘Forgotten Highway to the republic of Whangamomona, where we slept in the pub, hung with the locals, sang songs and Karen rode the ‘Sheriff’s’ horse down the main street in the dead of night.

Mike stole the show on ‘Gangsters & Molls’ night with his horses head

The Desert Duel over the years has raised almost a million dollars for various causes, a wonderful amount of money all through the generosity and spirit of people who want to make a difference. They are truly a great bunch and these last ten days will be an experience I’ll never forget, thank you Desert Duelers.


6 thoughts on “The Desert Duel”

  1. What a treat is was to have David with us on this trip. Unfortunately we had to share him around !!! Our fabulous Paralympic sportspeople have conquered the world in many different sports and the Desert Duel has had the pleasure to have some of them accompany us on our trips. Its all about having a great time, seeing places that most of us would never of seen in our lifetime and raising money. The one true pleasure for all of the Duellers has been giving our guests experiences that they never would of had the opportunity to do. Going to places perhaps they have looked at and admired, the Desert Duel made it happen. David fitted in so well and we hope the trip stays with him for many years to come. Thank you .The Walker Brothers 🙂

    1. I’ve been trying to explain it to people all week, but words don’t do it justice. I’m still not sure who won the horse race in rotorua, if Murray is a man or woman or if the Whangamomona Pub really existed or if it was just a dream. Thank you Walker Brothers, you guys were awesome.

  2. The honour was all ours Hally. You truly contributed so much to our trip and we are all so thrilled to hear you had such a great time with us bunch of dders. X

  3. What an experience David, glad you enjoyed the event.
    Going to NZ next year but a little different to your travel.
    Well done.

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