Aaron Nicholson reflects
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.