Duo cycle the country for a cause

Andrew Trevelyan (left) and Coeliac New Zealand board member Maximus Smitheram celebrate reaching the end of the Te Araroa trail at Bluff on Monday.

MAXIMUS Smitheram and Andrew Trevelyan have accomplished an ‘‘epic and challenging’’ tour, cycling the length of New Zealand as a way to raise awareness of Coeliac disease.

The duo began their 3000km expedition on the Te Araroa trail in Cape Reinga on March 1 and finished the track in Bluff on Monday.

Mr Smitheram has Coeliac disease and aimed to find certified Coeliac places for him to eat at along the journey.

The results they found were ‘‘surprising’’, he said.

‘‘In the North Island there were maybe only five different places where I felt safe to eat and in the South Island after Nelson, at that point I was reliant on dehydrated food packs we were carrying which had been donated.’’

People with Coeliac disease cannot eat gluten found in barley, rye, oats and wheat.

Food venues which were a highlight on the trip were Villa Nine in Te Aroha and specifically Munch in Palmerston North which was Dining Out Programme (DOP) certified, he said.

Hospitality and catering venues which were DOP certified had done a training programme set up by Coeliac New Zealand (CNZ), which taught them how to handle, produce and serve gluten-free options for their customers.

There were about 100,000 people in the country who suffered the disease. It was not a lifestyle choice for a person with Coeliac to avoid gluten, he said.

‘‘The critical thing for us is we don’t get to choose and if we do have gluten it can cause immediate or serious long-term problems.’’

He was grateful for the support of the Gluten Free Shop who gave them food care package drop-offs on their journey.

‘‘They were very thoughtful and sent a note with each one and gave us a nice travel food kit, and it was not too much to carry.’’

He also acknowledged CNZ representatives and members of the public who also donated food packs.

‘‘They were really critical and I became very reliant on them during our trip.’’

The men cycled about 100km a day.

‘‘We’ve had extraordinary weather and incredibly different topography through the central North Island, through the Podocarp forest and the Southern Alp ranges and glacier lakes and beech forests — seeing all the different landscapes was pretty spectacular,’’ Mr Smitheram said.

– To donate to the initiative, go to givealittle.co.nz/event/gfforlife-bike-aotearoa-2021.