Distress beacon and trampers save Australian visitor’s life

26 March 2018

Despite bad weather and rugged terrain, a distress beacon and the smart actions of a group of trampers have saved an Australian visitor’s life overnight in the Tararua Range, north of Wellington.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) Senior Search and Rescue Officer, Mike Roberts, said a LandSAR search and rescue team who eventually got to the severely hypothermic man this morning said the trampers who had helped the man had, without doubt, saved his life.

“They warmed him and fed him, helping his body temperature stabilise until a LandSAR team arrived at about 3am,” Mr Roberts said.

“Thankfully, he had a PLB distress beacon and we knew where he was and could get vital help to him.”

The rescue began at 6pm last night when the man, who was tramping with a friend, activated his distress beacon near Kime Hut. RCCNZ dispatched a Wellington Life Flight helicopter but low cloud and difficult flying conditions in the mountains prevented it getting near the hut.

The helicopter landed the search and rescue team as close as it could but that still left them with a seven-hour tramp through the night to reach the man.

Meanwhile, the man had staggered to the hut where, by chance, there was already a group of five other trampers.

At about 11am this morning, after help from the trampers and medical treatment from the LandSAR team, the man was helped to Field Hut where he was picked up by a Philips Search and Rescue Trust helicopter from Palmerston North.

A second LandSAR team was tasked in case weather prevented the helicopter landing and the man had to be carried out.

Fortunately the weather cleared, and he was flown to Palmerston North for treatment and is understood to be recovering well.

Mr Roberts praised the efforts and teamwork of all involved: Police and LandSAR volunteers in the two search and rescue teams, the two helicopter trusts and their crews, the trampers at Kime Hut, and the man who needed to be rescued.

“He had registered his beacon at his home in Australia, and told his emergency contacts what his plans were.

“That meant we could speak to his emergency contacts and get details we needed about where he was going, what equipment he had with him, his experience and anything that the paramedics might need to know.

“If you are in the mountains take a registered beacon – registration is legally required and is free. Make sure you have adequate food, water and equipment. These simple measures can save your life.”

All media releases

Subscribe Follow us News feed

Call the MNZ media line