NZ Woman's Weekly

Kerre McIvor climbs Mt Kilimanjaro

When Kerre McIvor finally made it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, she had little energy left to feel happy about it.

It had been an arduous five-day ordeal of non-stop climbing, but Kerre, along with Olympic couple Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh, musician Boh Runga and comedian Rhys Darby, reached the 19,300 ft summit last Tuesday- and Kerre says it was the toughest experience of her life.

The full team at the gate of Rongai Route on day one.

“It was harder than giving birth,” Kerre says from Tanzania, just hours after making the two-day descent.  “It was really hard- worse than a marathon. I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for what it was like. But I did it, and it was spectacular.”

While the climb pushed all the climbers- who were taking part to raise money for World Vision- to their absolute limits, no one suffered more than Flight of the Concords star Rhys, who battled a severe chest infection on the way up the mountain.

Rhys Darby was a true fighter, battling illness on the trip.

“He looked so sick,” says Kerre. “He emerged from his tent one morning and all I wanted to do was send him back to bed with a hot water bottle and some honey. But he was determined he was going to do it, and he did.”

With Rhys falling ill, leadership of the group fell on “Mahe’s extraordinarily broad shoulders”, Kerre says. “He was incredible. I didn’t expect him to be so kind, but he really helped us during those long cold nights climbing.”

A view from the (almost) top: Kerre McIvor and Mahe Drysdale stake their claim.

Apart from being “absolutely exhausted”, Kerre insists she’s fine- mostly due to the porters and guides that accompanied the group up the mountain.

“They are amazing. We were carrying our backpacks, but they were carrying all of our gear on their heads! And the food was superb. They carried frozen chicken up the side of Kili in metal containers with ice in them, and they’d wake you up in the morning with a cheery “good morning!” and a cup of tea. It was quite surreal!” she says.

Kerre McIvor wearing her "jandals of eternal happiness" she swapped her sneakers with a microfinance recipient.

And Kerre’s quick to say if it weren’t for the rest of the team, reaching the summit wouldn’t have been possible.

“We all brought different strengths to the team. I probably talked way too much, I’m sure I must have got annoying. “But we did it. I’m so proud!”

To donate to World Vision Micro,visit

About Kelly Bertrand

“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”

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Issue 1541

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