Sweating and panting in full firefighter get-up, One News host Wendy Petrie burst from the top of the 1103 stairs of Auckland's Sky Tower this morning.

Ms Petrie took part in Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand's annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge to support her 8-year-old niece who has been battling leukaemia since late last year.

She completed the climb in 14 minutes and 55 seconds.

Firefighter Josh Harrison of Auckland's Mount Wellington Station had the fastest time - 8 minutes and 46 seconds.


Tracey Lemon of the Waihi Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade was the fastest woman, completing the climb in 13 minutes and 57 seconds.

Ms Petrie's niece was supposed to fly from Wellington to meet Ms Petrie at the end of the climb but was in hospital after her temperature spiked last night.

"I'm absolutely gutted for her and disappointed that she wasn't able to be here," Ms Petrie told the Herald.

"It's heartbreaking for her and us. They were monitoring her all day yesterday and then her temperature spiked last night so she had to go into isolation at hospital.

"That's the reality of what she's going through. Doing this challenge is nothing compared to what her and her family have gone through."

Ms Petrie's niece needs two and a half years of tough treatments. She lives in Wellington and in the past six months has had to go to Christchurch Hospital's oncology department once a month for treatments.

"It's really difficult for her and her family," Ms Petrie said. "She's now in the maintenance phase of treatment so she won't have to go to Christchurch as much but will still have to go in to Wellington Hospital."

Ms Petrie said she felt really nervous before the climb. Afterwards, she said it was "absolutely gruelling" but it felt fantastic to finish.

"It was very tough. When I got to the 41st floor, I thought, I've got this, only 10 more floors to go, and picked up the pace.

"I give it to the firefighters for what they do. It was really, really hot in all the gear.

"I'm really proud I didn't have to break.

"I was breathing fast, my back was sore; my legs weren't too sore but it could be a different story tomorrow."

Wendy Petrie after completing the Sky Tower stair climb challenge. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Wendy Petrie after completing the Sky Tower stair climb challenge. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Ms Petrie's husband, TV producer Ross Peebles, and their three children, Addison, Liv and Zach met her at the top.

"I'm looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the weekend and chilling out with the kids."

More than $4000 has been raised through Ms Petrie's Sky Tower Challenge fundraising page.

The challenge was also completed by 850 firefighters. Several were met by family and loved ones at the top.

Many of the firefighters had unique or decorated helmets, such as a Pokemon helmet, a helmet with a tribute in remembrance of a colleague, and a helmet with small candles attached.

Some also decorated their oxygen tanks, with the likes of a Tasmanian devil toy and angel wings.

The challenge had raised $1,153,075 for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand as of 1pm today.

An awards ceremony tonight will announce which individuals and teams raised the most prior to the challenge. Donations can still be made for about another month.

Leukaemia and Blood Cancer

• Six NZ children and adults are diagnosed each day with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma.

• Every day, Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ has 41 interactions with patients and health professionals.

• Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ holds 70 support and education meetings each year.

• More than 10,000 people are living with blood cancer or a related condition in New Zealand.

Source: Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ