Call to push your limits

NEW CHALLENGE AWAITS: In 2022 Mid Canterbury farmers (from left) Willy Leferink, Bruce Kell, David Keeley and Warren Harris raised more than $100,000 for the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust by pedalling the length of New Zealand. PHOTO FILE
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Mid Cantabrians are being asked to walk, run, ride or ski in August for the inaugural Back to Base Challenge.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and ROA Mining Rescue Helicopter fundraiser encourages participants to choose one of the suggested distances helicopters cover regularly.

From a 9km challenge, which is the distance from Christchurch Hospital helipad back to base at the Christchurch Airport, up to 155km, the distance from Timaru Hospital to Christchurch Hospital and back to base.

Crew chief Rick Knight said skiers, or viewers of television series Mt Hutt Rescue, may want to do 97km, which is the distance from Mt Hutt to Christchurch Hospital and back to base.

‘‘This distance can even be completed through regular ski days this winter,’’ Knight said.

‘‘The Back to Base Challenge is a golden opportunity for our community to rally behind the rescue helicopter service. We need your help, and with each mission costing on average $5000, every dollar counts.

“Whether it’s hitting the gym, the golf course, or the great outdoors, this challenge is a chance to push limits and show creativity,” he said.

The challenge already has Mid Canterbury farmers Bruce Kell, David Keeley, Willy Leferink and Warren Harris on board.

They used pedal power to raise funds for the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust before. They made up a team, named Rescue Warriors, in 2022 which cycled the length of New Zealand and raised more than $100,000. They will use the new Back to Base Challenge as part of their training for Tour Aotearoa 2026, a bikepacking trip the length of the country. Kell said the helicopters were a lifeline for so many, especially those exploring New Zealand’s stunning countryside. “Supporting this service is investing in our future,” he said. The idea behind the challenge is that it reflects the dedication and endurance required from helicopter rescue teams. They respond to almost 1000 missions each year.

Sign up for the Back to Base Challenge at