Cold night for Lowburn farmer

Survival kit dropped to teen in Fiordland

Last updated 11:14 01/05/2014

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A 61-year-old Lowburn high country farmer spent a cold night on his farm, and sparked a search last night, after he failed to meet his wife as planned after mustering sheep.

The man and his wife had been dropped off by helicopter to separate locations to muster sheep out of snow.

The wife become concerned about the cold and an ongoing medical condition when the man failed to meet her and she raised the alarm about 9pm.

The man's cellphone had also ran out of battery.

Wanaka police SAR co-ordinator senior constable Mike Johnston said a helicopter from Te Anau with night vision gear was called in to help with the search.

However, the helicopter carrying two SAR members, a winchman and paramedic as well a Cromwell police crew on the ground, were unable to locate the man.

About 6.45am the man walked into his house unaware he was being looked for.

Johnston said the man had got below the snowline and into pine trees where he spent a ''cold and uncomfortable'' night.

''He is a very experienced high country farmer,'' Johnston said.

The man thought the helicopter was being used for frost fighting on nearby orchards and vineyards.

Johnston the man's wife had been happy to see her husband and the outcome of the search was a good thing.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old hunter separated from his mates in big bluff terrain in Fiordland at nightfall spent last night safe and warm thanks to night vision and a survival bag dropped by helicopter. 

After a successful day's hunt the teen was carrying a stag's trophy head back down to a vehicle near the Routeburne Track when he got separated from the group around dusk.

Being lightly clad and having no torch in terrain dotted with treacherous bluffs, he knew he had to get help and, using his cell phone, called his father, a Wanaka Search and Rescue volunteer, who contacted Queenstown police.

Senior constable Julian Cahill said the decision was made to use a helicopter equipped with night vision, which could pinpoint the teen hunter's position by honing in on the light from his phone.

From there a survival kit containing a sleeping bag, bivvy bag, food and torch were lowered.

''Because it was going to get down below freezing level, it was decided he needed help,'' Cahill said.

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- The Southland Times


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