Wanaka firefighter Elise Stables (21) will spend her birthday hiking three local peaks to raise funds for a charity close to her heart.

On May 28, Miss Stables will don her full firefighting kit and climb Mt Isthmus (1386masl), Mt Roy (1578masl) and Mt Iron (548masl) in one day as a fundraiser for the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Trust.

Her 36.5km adventure starts at 5am and it is planned to finish on Mt Iron after 5pm.

Miss Stables’ fundraising support for SCI began in 2019, when she travelled to Mongolia and took part in the Mongol Derby, a 1000km horseback race.

Growing up horse riding, and then as a firefighter, Miss Stables has seen first hand the impact spinal cord injuries can have.

“Paralysis is something that can happen quickly and to anyone,” she said.

She was inspired by fellow equestrian and founder of SCI, Catriona Williams, whom she met in 2019.

Formerly a New Zealand leading international equestrian rider, Ms Williams is now a C6/C7 tetraplegic, confined to a wheelchair after a riding accident in 2002.

In preparation for the three peak climbs, Miss Stables is working alongside a local personal trainer, Lucy Hunter.

Her programme involves strength training in the gym, hiking up Mt Iron in a 15kg vest several times a week and climbing Mt Roy or Mt Isthmus when she can.

Miss Stables has found it challenging to find time to do the longer ascents in training.

Her busy lifestyle includes volunteering as a Wanaka firefighter, working for a Luggate earthmoving company and studying for her commercial helicopter licence at Wanaka Helicopters.

“It’s been hard to find time to get in the mountains,” she said.

Alongside her diverse skillset, Miss Stables’ adventurous spark extends to hunting and fishing, which she has been enjoying around Wanaka since moving down from Cambridge in 2021.

“I love the hunter-gatherer lifestyle,” she said.

Miss Stables hopes to combine flying, firefighting and hunting in the future. Her dream after qualifying to be a pilot is to fight fires or travel to Asia to fly for fisheries.

She has no particular fundraising goal on May 28 but wants to raise as much as possible on her online fundraising page. []

“There’s not a target because it is not costing me anything,” she said.