Community collaboration has helped an important service go to the next level, helping mountain bikers who find themselves in need while riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest.
The vital First Response Unit operates in Rotorua's local forest with the support of many sponsors, public donations, local businesses and funders.
The unit has rescued about 2000 people since its inception in December 2016.
While Rotorua Mountain Bike Club's priority has been to maintain the service, secretary Barbara Jenks says the need for a 4WD vehicle became paramount.
"The unit had been using a two-wheel drive ute loaned from the council since 2019, and while we appreciated it, it wasn't suitable for patients on backboards or for extracting patients from access roads that require a 4WD," Barbara says.
The new, modified Toyota Hiace van has been in use for about three weeks now, and provides better outcomes for patients, ensuring they can be transported safely and efficiently, along with all their belongings.
"Sometimes ambulances are not immediately available so we are hoping with this new vehicle we can, in an emergency, transfer patients straight to the hospital. This could dramatically improve patient outcomes," Barbara says.
The new van has been refitted by removing the back seats in order to secure a stretcher in the back.
It has enough room for three passengers in the back and potentially room for a bike - something the ute couldn't fit.
Rotorua Mountain Bike Club president Clair Coker says the new van project all kicked off in December last year when, during an event she was in, a rider in front of her had a massive accident.
The rider was more than 1.83m (six feet) tall and had to be carried out on a backboard, but was too tall for the previous vehicle.
"It wasn't fit for purpose and getting a new van was the next priority," Clair says.
"We put the call out and got such huge support. Seeing how fast it happened is incredible."
She says a massive thanks to everyone who has helped to make the new van happen, as well as a big thanks to Barbara for being the powerhouse behind it happening.
Peak Safety co-director Budgie Woods says the new van is great for forest work and makes for a way smoother operation, with the patients being able to be loaded in the back with the medic.
Budgie says he took the new van out on its first job recently, which happened to be while he was inducting a medic.
They got a call to go out to a patient in the forest and being able to use the new van was fantastic, he says.
"I think this project is such an asset to this community and it's fantastic to be part of that... this van is a step up in the level of care we can provide."
The Rotorua Trust provided funding to buy the van. Chairman Stewart Edward says it is so important to have a facility like this.
He says there are different threats that mountain biking can present and that there is a 'golden hour' to get people out of traumatic situations and into treatment, which this new van helps with.
Stewart says Rotorua has become a mountain biking mecca, and the trust sees the club's First Response Unit as Rotorua manaakitanga, making mountain biking in the forest as safe as possible for both locals and visitors.
Peter Clark of Clark's Cars sourced and provided the 4WD van at a discounted cost.
Peter says he is a biker himself and this was a great cause.
"We are in the forest all the time and were more than happy to help."
"It is so easy to have an accident in the forest and with this service it is so much quicker to get the medical treatment needed, and of course the van takes this service to the next level because they are able to fit the stretcher, an extra person and the bike comfortably."
Signcraft owner/manager Lisa Farrell did the design and wrap of the van at a discounted price.
Lisa says it had been great being part of a project which involved a lot of people coming together and all contributing for a local cause.
"It's like-minded people getting together and helping a service that we need."
The Toi Ohomai Charity House Project funded the wrap for the van.
Sue Brotherton, associate dean at Toi Ohomai faculty of primary industries, trades and infrastructure, says they are stunned by how many rescues the service undertakes each year.
"It's very needed and this is great to be part of," Sue says.