Row for Life crew make it to Oamaru

Arriving in Friendly Bay last week are Rowing for Life Aotearoa crew members (from left) coxswain...
Arriving in Friendly Bay last week are Rowing for Life Aotearoa crew members (from left) coxswain Quentin Annan (Dunstan Arm Rowing Club) and rowers Ian Hamilton (Invercargill Rowing Club), Tim Gardner (Twizel Rowing Club), Gary Jack (Wakatipu Rowing Club) and Jock Jolly (Dunstan Arm Rowing Club). PHOTO: JULES CHIN
Come wind or high water, the Row for Life Aotearoa crew made it into Oamaru Harbour this week on their journey up the east coast of New Zealand.

The crew are raising funds to support the Child Cancer Foundation, Starship Children’s Hospital, surf lifesaving clubs across New Zealand and the Lions’ Skin Cancer Screening Trust.

The team began their trek in Bluff on February 10 after a row from Stewart Island.

Their Oamaru stop marked 422km in total.

Invercargill rower Ian Hamilton, the brainchild of the fundraiser, has not missed a kilometre since the row began.

He was happy to reach Oamaru from their last stop in Moeraki and was buoyed by all the community support.

"It’s good to be here.

"You get a bit drained by the end of the day. You recover and have a good feed and the body is ready again. You just adapt," he said.

"People have been donating their time, food, accommodation ... their donation to the cause is helping to supply fuel for all the following boats."

Dunedin rower and co-organiser Kevin Duggan said all the Lions clubs had been "absolutely incredible".

"Logistically ... it’s just massive.

"With the core rower crew rotating daily [it requires] support vessels and transport, organising the rowers, accommodation, liaison with Lions ... the efforts to get some networking going, to raise the profile."

Waitaki Lions Club co-ordinator Klaus Steiner said the row crew received "tremendous" support from local fishermen.

Rowers from the crew, some from Dunstan, Wakatipu and Twizel, were hosted at a barbecue held by the Lions club at the Oamaru Rowing Club last Thursday upon arrival.

Mr Hamilton said they made some special arrangements to reduce distances before they set off the following morning to Timaru.

"We tried to go in a straight line right past Oamaru because we want to tick off a few more kilometres for the next row tomorrow.

"We made it to the 45 parallel, just before the Waitaki River."

The fundraiser was a family affair.

The 67-year-old Invercargill Rowing Club rower has been rowing since 1974.

He coached his sons Richard and Jeremy, who joined the row to Timaru, and his daughter Kelly.

His wife Jen also rows and was "logistics support" as part of the Row For Life Aotearoa team.

Mr Duggan said Mr Hamilton had been "amazing".

"I can’t believe his ability to get up day after day and put these massive days on the water.

"Ian is big on community.

"Anyone capable of sitting in a boat and rowing for [10km] can contact us on Facebook or the website, and you can travel out on support boats."

The Row For Life Aotearoa has a Givealittle page for donations.