The two trampers who went missing in bush north-west of Nelson say they spent nearly two weeks without food and their only saving grace was water they had found.
An intensive search and rescue operation had been underway to find Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor, who have been in Kahurangi National Park since 8 May.
The pair were in a very rugged and remote part of the park when a search helicopter spotted smoke from a fire they had lit and rescued them yesterday, the police officer leading the rescue, Sergeant Malcolm York, said.
York said the 23-year-olds were incredibly lucky to have survived.
“This search was a particularly challenging one due to the remote and rugged location, it’s a long from anywhere out there and it’s a complete lack of any communication.” . .
The trampers did the right thing once they were lost – made camp and stayed put.
However, they did two things wrong at the start – going tramping under Covid-19 Level 3 lockdown when tramping was confined to day walks on easy trails; and not taking a personal locator beacon.
A PLB costs a few hundred dollars to buy and far less to hire.
Buying or hiring one is a lot less expensive than the costs incurred by police and search parties who have to go on a rescue mission at considerable inconvenience and potential risk to their safety.
This story could have ended very badly. That it didn’t owes a lot to the trampers doing the right thing once they were lost, the perseverance and skill of the searchers and a little bit of luck.
It wouldn’t even have been a story had the couple not got two things right at the start – sticking to the lockdown rules and carrying a PLB.