Thursday, January 11, 2024



Nelson Airport. Photo credit R. Therkleson Pigeon Post News.

Nelson Airport’s Walk the Runway back in 2024!

The popular Walk the Runway fundraising event is back, offering the public a chance to take a sunset stroll ‘behind the scenes’ at Nelson Airport on 20 January 2024.

This is only the second time the airport has opened its runway up to the public. In January 2023, the inaugural Walk the Runway event exceeded all expectations with a crowd of more than 2000 taking part.

Nelson Airport Communications Manager Beth Catley said the airport was excited to offer the experience for a second time.

“The event last year had rave reviews and we had so many requests to repeat it – both from those who came along as well as those who missed out but saw the amazing photos or heard about it afterwards from friends. So we’ve decided to do it again this year, and on a slightly earlier date to make the most of the summer evening light.”

Walk the Runway starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 20 January, ready for participants to head out on the tarmac as soon as the last flight lands around 8pm.

The event is a fundraiser for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ, supporting the entry of three airport firefighters in the 2024 Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge. Sounds Air have also come on board this year as a sponsor, making a $2000 donation to the fundraiser.

Veteran firefighter Murray Hart, who has been part of the Nelson Airport Rescue Fire Service for more than 40 years, will be competing for the eighth time. Murray has taken out his age category four times in the challenge and will be competing in the Supreme Masters division. He’s been training hard again this year running hills around the region and up the Tamaki Steps whenever he gets the chance, as have his colleagues Matt van der Heyden and Alec Hampson.

Nelson Airport firefighters Matt van der Heyden and Murray Hart will compete in the 2024 Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge, along with colleague Alec Hampson. Photo credit Nelson Airport Communications Manager Beth Catley.

“The Sky Tower challenge has become very competitive for an initiative that started 20 years ago with just 17 firefighters taking part,” Murray said. “Now there’s 1000 firefighters every year and last year we raised $1.5 million. I'm there to compete, but I always have in the back of my mind the stories of the families and children with cancer that are supported by the service through really hard times. It’s an incredible charity to support and I hope everyone who comes along to the runway walk has a great night and gives generously.” 

Beth said this year the airport is asking participants to register and donate online in advance to give organisers an idea of numbers and reduce cash handling on the night.

“We were blown away by the interest last year and we want to make sure we put on a great night for everyone. Part of that is making sure we have enough volunteers and capacity to ensure everything runs smoothly, so if people register in advance that will be a big help for our planning. Those who are coming along with a family or group only need to register and donate once using the online system.”

Beth said while pre-registration is encouraged, it’s not compulsory and people will be able to donate on the night. Parking is free and people are asked to follow the directions of marshals to the designated area.

Participants can register at (search ‘Walk the Runway’) and check out the FAQs for more event details.

Nelson Airport Communications Manager Beth Catley.

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

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