Wellington man paddles jetboat to safety

A Wellington man and his hunting companion were forced to paddle their jetboat down a remote river after a disastrous breakdown.

The man, 47, and a Bay of Plenty man, 55, had gone into the Hanamahihi area of the Whakatane River in the Te Urewera National Park by jet boat on Thursday morning, and were due out yesterday, but failed to return.

When the men were about nine hours overdue one of their wives called Rotorua Police at 9pm, but driving rain, low cloud and high winds prevented an air search.

Then as rescue teams set out on foot this morning, a break in the weather allowed a Murupara-based helicopter to fly into the area and the men were located safe and well downstream from the Hanamahihi Hut about 10am.

Detective Sergeant John Wilson said the men had spent four nights in the park, but they had actually experienced little rain and were in the safety of huts located along the river.

Their jet boat's engine had failed and the pair attempted to paddle 35km back down the river to their vehicle at Ruatoki.

When police found them they still had another 32km to go, he said.

''They were happy to carry on doing that they were doing. But they realised it was going to be a long trip.''

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

The Dominion Post