Adrenalin still high af­ter world first

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Ti­tahi Bay beach was the fin­ish line last week for a world-first ad­ven­ture by Sarah Wil­son, whose last at­tempt nearly cost her life.

The 50- year- old, from Waikanae, climbed Mt Cook, cy­cled to Pic­ton and pad­dled across Cook Strait.

She achieved it in 16 days, cul­mi­nat­ing in ‘‘ whistling and hoot­ing’’ from sup­port­ers as her kayak glided onto the Ti­tahi Bay’s sand on Jan­uary 21.

‘‘I’m still in the mid­dle of clean­ing up my kit, there is just moun­tains of junk to sort,’’ she told Kapi-Mana News last week.

‘‘The adren­a­line is still flow­ing, it will take some time for me to come down, but I’m go­ing for a [bike] ride soon, got to stay fit.’’

Start­ing on Jan­uary 5, Ms Wil­son and Brid­get Janse, also from Kapiti, com­pleted a 21-hour climb up Mt Cook. They de­scended on Jan­uary 7.

Ms Wil­son, Ms Janse and Bron­wyn Ward from Pic­ton then cy­cled the 770 kilo­me­tres from Mt Cook to Pic­ton from Jan­uary 11 to 18.

It was on this leg she en­coun­tered the hairi­est mo­ments.

‘‘We’re just out of Am­ber­ley the rain is just pour­ing down and there’s mas­sive trucks pass­ing you while you’re cy­cling with very lit­tle vis­i­bil­ity.

‘‘Really scary stuff.’’

Ms Wil­son and her nephew Luke then did a two-day 60km kayak across Cook Strait.

The first day, to the heads of Marl­bor­ough Sounds, was the most dif­fi­cult, with tough head­winds. So why did she do it? Two rea­sons – rais­ing aware­ness for melanoma, which Ms Wil­son was di­ag­nosed with in 1999, and in­spir­ing Ki­wis to en­joy the ad­ven­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties in New Zealand.

‘‘I was keen to raise funds and just make peo­ple re­alise that be­ing ex­posed to the sun with­out pro­tec­tion can be a killer.

‘‘When you’re un­der the age 18 and you burn, you dou­ble the risk of melanoma, and you need to get moles reg­u­larly checked.’’

Ms Wil­son and friend Cat Shand had at­tempted the Cook-to­Cook be­fore, in Novem­ber 2011, but it nearly ended in tragedy when they were trapped in an avalanche on Mt Cook.

Ms Shand had to dig Ms Wil­son out of the snow with her bare hands. They both suf­fered frost­bite and the rest of the chal­lenge was can­celled.

This time ev­ery­thing went to plan, aside from Ms Janse fall­ing ill with food poi­son­ing.

‘‘She was throw­ing up as we went up the moun­tain, I think you can put it down to a dodgy chicken pie.’’

Ms Wil­son says she has hours of footage to edit, and hopes to put out to­gether a short film.

About $6000 has been raised for the Melanoma Foun­da­tion and peo­ple can still do­nate at ad­ven­ture­coach.co.nz/blog. She wished to thank the Hil­lary Ex­pe­di­tion Fund for its fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Photo: FAIRFAX NZ

Landed: Sarah Wil­son gives a wave as she lands at Ti­tahi Bay beach to com­plete the Cook-to­Cook chal­lenge on Jan­uary 21.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

Moun­tain high: Sarah Wil­son and Brid­get Janse be­low Mt Cook be­fore they be­gan their as­cent.

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