A DISABLED cockatiel wants to become the first bird to shake its tail feathers and walk the length of New Zealand.
Ollie the cockatiel was hand-raised by Cambridge woman Robyn Chappell after being attacked as a young chick.
Having overcome many obstacles in his life, the 20-month-old bird now has a new mission become the first cockatiel to walk the length of New Zealand and the first through-hiker to raise money for Te Araroa Trust, which manages the almost 3000km trail which runs the length of the country.
Ollie and Ms Chappell left their nest in the North Island last week and started the trip down south.
“Obviously the original idea was to walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff but due to the lockdown we have to rethink our trip. Like everybody else, we have to adapt our plans,” Ms Chappell said.
The duo started their trip from Whanganui instead and were heading towards Wellington where they planned to catch a ferry to the South Island.
At 59 years old, Ms Chappell says she is “no spring chicken” but hopes she can complete the route in six months.
The idea came as a way to raise awareness and money for Te Araroa Trust. Ms Chappell always wanted to experience Te Araroa, but had not had the time or drive to do it.
She said the idea was to inspire people to get off their couch and go for a walk, while also raising money for the “important and iconic” trail.
With Ollie as inspiration, she set up a Facebook page and the overwhelming support for their trip gave her even more motivation for the mission.
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However, she said to not expect any photographs from her during this trip as everything was about Ollie.
“He is the famous one just the human who carries him,” she joked.
More than 20 outfits were knitted for his trip to protect his chest and a special cage-bag was brought from overseas so Ollie could enjoy and see the whole trip.
“He is doing really well. He is away from his familiar surroundings but he is a little trouper.
“As long as he can sit on my shoulder for much of the time, he is happy.”
He could only do that in townships or on remote routes, as busy traffic and heavy trucks scared Ollie, she said.
She had already been impressed by the kindness of people she met as they travelled.
“I read about other people’s adventures on the trail and the top comments were about the people you meet along the way.
“I’ve only been walking for a few days, but can say that is completely true the people are just incredible.”
She was looking forward to arriving in Bluff next year.
Donations for the trust can be made on Ollie the Cockatiel’s Journey via NZ’s Te Araroa Trail fundraiser page on givealittle.co.nz.