Driving a tuk-tuk 3000km across India isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was an adventure of a lifetime for three friends.

The trio traversed jungle, mountains and some of the busiest cities in the world, on their three-wheeled motorised machine.

The Rickshaw Run claims to test people and push them to their limits.   

“It's just you and your mates in a wholly unsuitable vehicle, traversing the subcontinent, enduring whatever s*** the road throws at you,” the Rickshaw Run website says.

But it didn’t deter Maddy Boyd, Hannah Richardson, Gerard Spowart from taking on the challenge.

“We all love exploring new places and cultures and prefer to do this in an exciting way - The Rickshaw Run combined all of these elements that we love,” Maddy says.

Tough trip in organised chaos

And the two-week trip didn’t fail to live up to expectations that it would be tough.

 “There’s a billion people in India and the traffic is insane. There are unspoken road rules so it is organised chaos, and getting used to driving a different vehicle with the added pressure of traffic was a challenge,” Maddy says.

The 23-year-olds battled exhaustion, deli belly, and the not so trusty tuk-tuk broke down on the second-to-last day, meaning the last 250km were on the back of a truck. 

“We’ve ended up in towns where we were told to leave as it was unsafe. Whenever we stopped to get petrol or to rest the tuk-tuk, we were instantly surrounded by people, which could be overwhelming at times,” Maddy says.

However, they stayed motivated knowing their efforts were going towards a cause they’re passionate about.

Raising awareness and funds

“Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent in New Zealand, but there is still too much stigma associated with it.

“We’ve been impacted by it personally or through friends and family so it made sense to raise awareness, as well as funds for a foundation that is actively doing something about the issue.”

The trip that took the three friends from one end of India to the other, may have had challenges but it also wasn’t without plenty of lighter moments.

“We were stopped multiple times by the police just because they want to know what New Zealand’s weather is like or they wanted to give us food.

“We had to take selfies with people driving alongside us and we almost drove into way too many cows.”

The epic journey also provided an opportunity to open their eyes to a different way of living.

“We learnt that India is a huge and an incredibly diverse country, full of hospitable and caring people, but we also saw a lot of poverty and many people with extreme physical ailments.

Mental health issues hidden

Maddy says contrasts between ways of life in India and New Zealand revealed many differences and disparity.

“We have the privileges that come with living in a Western country, which comes with increasing societal pressures that didn't seem present in India. This has made us realise how many more people could be suffering from hidden mental health issues.”

Maddy, Hannah and Gerard just hope their work will go some way to help those in need.

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