Axe on Everest goes down under in August

August has been a busy month for Axe!  I recently returned from a very successful speaking tour to New Zealand.  Over 6 days I spoke to 3 schools and conducted 3 public presentation evenings, speaking to over 700 people in total. Through the 6 days, over NZ$ 11,000 was raised for the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust(TRHT).  Considerable exposure was also generated for the TRHT through media coverage of my visit – namely radio, newspaper and television. A huge thank you to the presenting sponsor JSL – Jufferman’s Surveyors Limited – for arranging the talks.

I was reminded constantly of the warmth and friendliness of Kiwi people during my trip.  Sometimes we Kiwi’s take this for granted. I had a good reminder on the evening of my final talk which held in a French Restaurant in Auckland.  The manager that night must have had a rough sleep under a bridge the previous night or some bad snails for breakfast, as she was in a foul mood, smelled of garlic, was quite unhelpful and hated jokes about the Rainbow warrior. Never the less – the evening was very successful and a big thank you to Helen and Mark Taucher and James J Bentley for organising the evening.

My trip home was also covered by Close Up.  Close Up is TVNZ’s nightly current affairs show.  Close Up air’s on TV1 at primetime viewing (7:00PM – 7:30PM) throughout the working week.  This was filmed over a very enjoyable and action packed two days. One day was spent with the TRHT and my sister Debra.  Debra was involved in a horrific car accident on 24 February 2012 and the TRHT helped to save her life by flying her to hospital.  The very nice crew from the TRHT flew Debra and I into the St Patrick’s primary school in Inglewood, to meet the students there who had been following my  journey for the last few months and have been ardent supporters.  I conducted a talk to the students along with the TRHT crew and we had a small tour around their beautiful school before re-boarding the helicopter and flying back to New Plymouth.  It was definitely the most scenic and exciting way I have traveled to a speaking engagement.

The second day filming was on the beautiful Paritutu Rock in New Plymouth (See photo’s below).  I spent 5 hours scurrying up and down this rock with camera’s on remote-controlled helicopters following me.  The climbing footage should air on Close Up shortly and I will send the link at the time.  Unfortunately 2 days after the filming on Paritutu, a terrible tragedy unfolded at the same spot as 3 students were swept into rough sea’s whilst rock climbing, only one body has been found so far (click here to learn more). It was sad news to hear as I returned from my trip, but heartening to see the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter heavily involved in rescuing by winch the remaining 10 students who were stuck on the rock.

I also made an attempt at climbing Mt Taranaki.  In poor weather conditions and low visibility we turned back about 200m from the summit.  It was a good reminder to me of how dangerous New Zealand mountains can be in bad weather. The combination of very wet and cold conditions makes it difficult to keep warm.  As compared to somewhere like the Himalaya where it is very cold but dry and is much easier to keep warm.

A huge thank you to also to the team from the  TRHTMichelle, Jayden, Fergus, Sam and Phil, a huge thank you for your support throughout the week.

I am very proud to say that John Foord Axe on Everest 2012 has raised to-date over NZ$26,000 for the TRHT. Thank to you all who have donated or supported by attending the talks.

Below are some photo’s from the trip, and some links to the various media articles from the trip to New Zealand.

I also returned this weekend from a short visit to Phuket, Thailand where I presented Axe on Everest to a staff retreat for Catlin.  The retreat was called a ‘Wellness weekend’ and was arranged by UFIT.  Located  in the stunning resort of Indigo Pearl in Northern Phuket it was definitely the nicest seaside resort I have ever stayed in and the most interesting and enjoyable corporate retreat I have experienced. Fitness boot camps, amazing races with bungy jumping, zorbing, go-karting, bowling and many other activities, beautiful beach side BBQ’s and bonfires, community service and even a beer or two thrown in. If you are looking for a value for money and excellent corporate retreat then I can thoroughly recommend this – please contact UFIT.

More John Foord Axe on Everest talks are coming up over the next two months in Indonesia and Singapore. Watch this space if you want to know where and when.  If you are interested in hosting a talk then do please get in touch with me at

Cheers for now!



(click on links below to view)

August 2012:  Stratford Press – ‘Climber thanks rescue crew for saving sister’

August 2012:  Taranaki Daily News – ‘Everest hero drops in to meet students’

August 2012:  Taranaki Daily News – ‘Axe from the top of the world for funds’

July 2012:  Taranaki Daily News – ‘Busy time for rescue helicopter’

July 2012: Taranaki Daily News – ‘From one road to another’


The Close Up camera crew filmed me climb Paritutu using this remote-controlled helicopter carrying a camera. Over NZ$100,000 worth of equipment zooming around!

The helicopter in action – it has a range of 2km and a flight duration time of 11 minutes.

The cameraman always has the hardest job!

But he finally got there.

My sister Debra Avery meets the flight crew from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust who flew her to hospital after her accident on 24 February 2012. L to R: Jayden Strickland (Chief Crewman), Debra Avery, Roger Blume (Paramedic), Fergus MacLachlan (Pilot)

The students from the lovely St Patrick’s primary school in Inglewood awaiting our arrival as we land in Taranaki Rescue Helicopter

TRHT pilot Fergus MacLachlan lands us at St Patrick’s primary school in Inglewood, students visible in the background.

Being presented a cheque from St Patrick’s Primary School as a donation to the TRHT. St Patrick’s raised the money through various activities including a sausage sizzle – well done!

With the students from St Josephs primary school in Stratford

Speaking to Catlin group in Phuket at the UFIT Wellness weekend. Photo credit: Cheryl Lin

A view of Paritutu rock in New Plymouth from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter.

CEO of JSL, Mr Allan Jufferman’s hands over the cheque to TRHT PR and Sponsorship coordinator Mrs Michelle Zender. Awesome effort JSL and TRHT!

The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter searches for three lost climbers in heavy sea’s after falling off Parititu Rock, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. Photo credit: Jeremy Beckers

Posted on August 20, 2012, in Everest 2012, Speaking. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Great report Grunto! What a nice way to round up your whole project


  2. Wow, Axe! You must be hoarse from all that yakking. What a fantastic fund-raiser you have been and your sponsors would be proud. Can only presume your boss must be very understanding.and why not? You would have many awesome stories to tell about what Joe Simpson once described as “the beckoning silence of great height: the inverted gravity of mountain-going – the attractive force that pulls you ever upwards”


  3. When are you bringing your presentation to the Big Apple????
    Nicola xxx


  4. Kate (Isadora) Smith

    Delightful photographs. You are certainly making a big impression on some young minds. Any big plans in the pipe line Cheers Kate (UK )


  5. Kate (Isadora) Smith

    I was just on my way to bed when I heard about the terrible news on Manaslu. It is hard to take on board with so many deaths and casualties. It sounds like a case of wrong time wrong place.So many families suffering tonight. It made me cast my mind around the mountaineers I have followed of late. Your lecture tours seem to be going down well and Indonesia is a great place to visit. What next I ask myself the UK is only a stone’s throw away! Take care to you both. Cheers Kate


  6. Kate (Isadora) Smith

    I have just played your video of Past Climbs to some friends and we all found it very emotional. Some times when I am feeling a little down I play it to cheer myself up. Is there anyway you could add your additional climbs eg Everest. It is such a great visual diary. Cheers Kate


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