Tramper's expensive mistake

BY KATARINA FILIPE
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2010

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A Belgian tourist who sparked an estimated $15,000 rescue operation after failing to sign out upon her return from Aoraki/Mt Cook will not have to pay up.

Rescuers began searching for the 28-year-old on Thursday afternoon after she did not check in at the Department of Conservation office on Wednesday.

Twizel Senior Constable Les Andrew said there was no intent in the 28-year-old's actions. Police had spoken to her. "She's realised that she made a pretty big mistake."

The woman called police at 8.40am yesterday to say she was out of the national park and in Twizel, said DOC Aoraki/Mt Cook spokesperson Shirley Slatter.

By then, rescuers were "quite some way along", she said.

They had resumed their search at 5.30am using heat-seeking equipment, while an Iroquois helicopter was on its way from the North Island.

Search and Rescue teams from Tekapo, Twizel and Omarama were ready to be deployed into the field. Since the search began, two helicopter trips had been made.

DOC estimated the rescue efforts had cost between $12,000 to $15,000.

Mr Andrew said the tramper had been in New Zealand for five months and was leaving next week.

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- The Timaru Herald

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