Chopper rescues man after landing on head down steep ravine

Chopper rescues man after landing on head down steep ravine

It was just over a year ago John Gooding took the plunge and decided to buy himself an electric bike.

“I thought I was the cat’s pyjamas,” the 76-year-old says.

He began exploring Christchurch and decided to head to the Port Hills for a ride.

John Gooding image

John Gooding

“Going up the tracks was fine, but going down it gets a lot faster because it’s quite a bit heavier and I ended up going over the edge of the Rapaki track about two-thirds of the way down.

“Two things happened that day - one is that I landed on my head and the other was that the handlebars jammed my leg around my knee so I couldn’t move. All I could do was talk.”

He says he began yelling and out of pure luck, a teacher with eight pupils biking down the track, heard his distressed call, and stopped to try and assist.

Another person called 111.

John says the fire brigade was first to arrive and then the Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

“When the helicopter arrived and they put some painkiller in me and lifted me up it was an absolute relief.

“For me it would have been a disaster if they didn’t come. I would have lost my leg as the nerve was pretty much cut through.

“I couldn’t believe that within quarter of an hour of being in almost an impossible position, I’m suddenly in the hospital.”

John was also diagnosed with fractured vertebrae.

“I didn’t know I had a broken neck. I said my head’s sore and I was handled very gently after that.”

The good news is that John has healed and the e-bike has been repaired and both are now inseparable.

“I’ve just been on the Alps to Ocean on it,” says John. “I use it go everywhere.”


2018 Westpac Chopper Appeal launch – May 1, 2018

Running throughout May, the Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by fundraising activities in schools and community centres, as well as a nationwide street appeal on Friday May 18.

The Chopper Appeal aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the rescue helicopter services with all donations going back to the region they are collected from.

More than 7000 missions were undertaken by local rescue helicopters around the country last year.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Appeal, and distributes all of the funds raised back to donors’ local rescue helicopter trust.

Go to for more information and to donate.

Ways you can donate this Chopper Appeal:

• at any Westpac Branch
• online at
• text your postcode to 2449 to make a $3 donation.*

Westpac is the principal sponsor of the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury Westpac rescue helicopters.

The annual Westpac Chopper Appeal helps raise funds for all regional rescue helicopter services around New Zealand.

*For text donations, additional network charges may apply. 100% of your donation goes to your local chopper. Terms and conditions apply, to view please visit