Aaron Ni­chol­son re­flects

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - Read more on­line at:

MAR­JORIE COOK

Sergeant Aaron Ni­chol­son has re­tired af­ter 30 years of polic­ing.

He’s keen to move into a vol­un­teer role with search and res­cue and will con­tinue to run the Con­tact Epic moun­tain bike race he founded 11 years ago with his wife Danielle.

When Ni­chol­son was ap­pointed Wanaka’s of­fi­cer in charge about 18 years ago, he was one of six of­fi­cers at the for­mer Hel­wick Street po­lice sta­tion.

Now, about 12 of­fi­cers work from the new Bal­lan­tyne Street sta­tion, led by Se­nior Sergeant Al­lan Grindell.

Back in the day, Ni­chol­son’s col­leagues were De­tec­tive Pete Cor­bett, who led search and res­cue re­sponses, Lyn Donaldson, Trevor Hew­son, Grant Kee­ble and Terry Saun­ders.

‘‘When I ar­rived I had no in­cli­na­tion to be in­volved in SAR and knew noth­ing about it.

‘‘Pete said, your job is SAR. You need to look at your lo­cal beat. That’s Mt As­pir­ing.

‘‘So we went to the lo­cal crag and did a small climb and he said, you’re not as unco as you look. And off we went.

‘‘I was com­pletely ig­no­rant of the risk. I was the per­fect per­son to fall off. We went up the North West ridge via the Therma Glacier and walked out via French Ridge Hut. I thought that’s pretty sim­ple, which was about when I should have quit,’’ he re­called.

Ni­chol­son has now climbed Mt As­pir­ing five times and has a much bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the moun­tains.

In his other roles, Ni­chol­son has dealt with al­co­hol-re­lated of­fend­ing, drink-driv­ing, fam­ily harm, and a raft of petty and silly be­hav­iour.

Though the town has had its share of nasty as­saults and drug busts, Ni­chol­son says Wanaka is still a safe town.

‘‘There’s been no mur­ders or bank rob­beries.

‘‘I have a lot of memories, have had a lot of good times,’’ he said.

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