Kaikoura birthday girl gets flight of her life in a chopper piloted by Richie McCaw

Stevie Dineen, 11, took a selfie with Richie McCaw on her surprise chopper flight. Picture / supplied
Stevie Dineen, 11, took a selfie with Richie McCaw on her surprise chopper flight. Picture / supplied

A kind police officer gave a Kaikoura girl the surprise of her life for her 11th birthday - a chopper ride with Richie McCaw.

Wanting to give her kids a break from the trauma of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks, Stevie Dineen's mum Lisa took Stevie and her​ brother Jack, 9, to stay with some relatives in Christchurch on her birthday on November 25.

The family was stuck there when debris from more aftershocks closed the Inland Rd, the only route into Kaikoura.

They planned to celebrate Stevie's birthday when they got back home.

But Senior Constable Penny Rusbatch, who​ had met the family before they left on the trip, organised for Stevie to go on her dream birthday excursion while in Christchurch.

When Stevie arrived at Christchurch Helicopters and saw Richie McCaw standing in front of a helicopter she was "gobsmacked, speechless", her mother said.

Lisa Dineen was also in the dark about Rusbatch's surprise.

"I had no idea. It's pretty wonderful for a lady to go above and beyond to do something nice for a young girl. She didn't have to. Very grateful for it."

Stevie Dineen says thank you to Penny Rusbatch for her surprise birthday chopper ride with Richie McCaw. Picture / supplied
Stevie Dineen says thank you to Penny Rusbatch for her surprise birthday chopper ride with Richie McCaw. Picture / supplied

McCaw treated Stevie to a 20-minute flight around Canterbury. Jack and their cousin Reuben Holden watched from the ground.

"Richie talked the whole way through" and Stevie snapped a selfie of her and McCaw in the cockpit.

The ex-All Black was "down-to-earth and a bloody handsome looking fella," Lisa Dineen said.

"I'll never be able to top the birthday list again. [Stevie] loves choppers, anything to do with the Army or the Navy."

Now that Inland Rd had reopened, the family planned to return to Kaikoura on Friday.

Their home had not been badly damaged by the quakes, but "everything inside was tipped upside down and broke," Lisa Dinnen said.

"Back into reality. Clean up the mess and I think schools might be reopening for a few hours each day too."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 09 Dec 2016 06:14:35 Processing Time: 743ms