FORTY-SIX cyclists rode more than 240km to raise funds for rescue helicopters on Friday.
The group left Queenstown at 5am and arrived in Invercargill 12 hours later as part of the Westpac Chopper Appeal Bike Ride to raise funds for the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust.
Among them was Southland district councillor John Douglas who was celebrating his 10th year taking part in the event.
He said it was a special feeling to complete the journey.
‘‘It has taken 11 years to have my 10th ride — but it is a thumbs-up day. It really is.
‘‘I’m very happy but also relieved that it is over — 245km is a long way.’’
He said conditions for the ride were good and they had a tailwind for most of the way.
Paralympic gold medallist Mary Fisher travelled from Wellington to take part in the event for the first time.
She was riding a tandem bike with Southland man Brook Armishaw and described the experience as ‘‘epic’’.
‘‘I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I was very fortunate to have an extremely talented pilot. It was good to have a go.’’
Fisher said she decided to take up the challenge because the chopper services throughout the country were extremely important.
‘‘Everyone has a story of themselves or from someone they know that needed to use the services. It is a very special cause and I absolutely feel proud and honoured to take part.’’
A Givealittle page was set up with a goal of raising $40,000. Lakes District Air Rescue Trust
chairman Jules Tapper said the public’s generosity had helped the trust keep improving the capabilities of its aircraft and crew.
‘‘We rely on donations from the public to keep our lakes district rescue helicopters in the sky, and we’re hugely grateful for everyone who’s able to donate.’’