Paraglider’s charity challenge

Matt Stanford during his Cook Strait glide

Matt Stanford during his Cook Strait glide - Credit: supplied

A PARAGLIDING enthusiast from Nailsea has become the first person to glide between New Zealand’s north and south islands.

Matt Stanford

Matt Stanford - Credit: supplied

Matt Stanford took on the challenge of crossing the Cook Strait to raise money for World Vision. The 29-year-old learnt to fly paragliders in 2009, and has since become national champion twice in different classes in New Zealand, where he is currently living.

A former Nailsea School pupil, Matt subsequently qualified as a teacher and taught at Wrington Primary School before travelling to teach in a Himalayan Leprosy hospital and fly the Himalayan mountain range.

Matt spent 13 months preparing to take on the 30km Cook Strait challenge, which he completed on March 2 by jumping from a helicopter hovering at 13,000ft.

He said: “I wanted to cross Cook Strait as it had never been done before despite a few attempts.

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“When we fly our goal is often to cover distance, we call this flying cross country.

“To fly between the islands could be considered the ultimate cross country - a paraglider has no engine and doesnt perform that well on long open glides, especially not over open water and rough seas.”

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By completing the challenge, Matt hopes to raise much-needed funds for World Vision to support the work it carries out with impoverished children.

To sponsor Matt visit

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