Three Upper Hutt children trapped in thick bush after falling down a steep rocky slope were airlifted to safety after using a cellphone to direct a helicopter to their exact location.
They were returning from a walk up Cannons Pt to their Totara Park home when they were caught out, about midday on Saturday.
The Westpac rescue helicopter found them, winched them out and flew them to Hutt Hospital after Renee Keating, 13, phoned police.
Renee said she, her brother Koenraad, 11, and Courtney, 9, were going down a logging road and following a gully down to what they thought was a shortcut to another track.
"It was really, really steep and we kept falling. At one stage we fell about 15 metres and I hurt my tailbone. My sister fell over a rock and hurt her leg. She couldn't move it and we just felt it was the best thing to call the police."
After an hour the helicopter's Keith Frewen called. "He was flying around us and we had to tell him whether he was getting nearer."
Police and ambulance searchers and rescuers then walked to them, treated them and cleared an area so they could be winched into the helicopter. "I was really relieved to get out. It was pretty scary," said Renee.
"The worst part was just waiting and the feeling that you're not going to be found."
Courtney was hoisted the 70 metres up to the helicopter first, Renee went next, then Koenraad.
Asked if it was scary, she said: "I don't know, I just closed my eyes. It was noisy and really windy specially when we were brought toward the chopper."
Courtney said a harness was put around her waist and the helicopter crewman held on to her really tight.
"It was really awesome. I wasn't scared. It was a relief, it was noisy and I remember seeing all around Cannons Pt as I was lifted up," she said.
They were flown to the Avalon helipad and taken by Wellington Free Ambulance to hospital. After checks their parents took them home.
They were all scratched and bruised but otherwise unhurt. Renee vowed not to go up the hill again.
Their father Lance Keating said they regularly walked up Cannons Pt and let the kids go on their own provided they used the tracks, stayed together and took the cellphone.
The ex-army and fire brigade man said he always talked to them about this sort of situation. It was a bit embarrassing to have search and rescue, police, ambulance and the helicopter called in.
- The Dominion Post