Extreme weather cuts tramps short

NEIL RATLEY AND ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 03/01/2013
Elliot Lord of Auckland, leads 19 trampers, who had to cut short their time on the Milford Track because of heavy rain, off the ferry in Te Anau.
BARRY HARCOURT
WET WALK: Elliot Lord of Auckland, leads 19 trampers, who had to cut short their time on the Milford Track because of heavy rain, off the ferry in Te Anau.

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A group of 11 trampers made it back to Te Anau yesterday evening, including a family of seven, after being stranded on the Milford Track.

The Lord family were among 120 trampers stranded on the track on Tuesday after extreme weather forced the Department of Conservation to close the popular trail.

A MetService spokeswoman said more than 400mm of rain fell during New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The track was reopened yesterday and trampers either cut short their trips or carried on with the walk.

Aucklander Elliot Lord said he and his partner Lisa were with his parents, his brother and sister and his brother's Japanese wife.

"My brother and his wife, who are keen trampers, were visiting from Japan and wanted to do the Milford Track," he said.

"Unfortunately because of the rain and flight bookings we could not complete the track and had to walk out the same way we came in after the rain closed the track for a day."

The Lord family were part of a group of 40 trampers forced to spend an extra night at the Mintaro Hut with the 40-bed Clinton and Dumpling Huts also full of stranded trampers.

Another 29 trampers left the Mintaro Hut and continued walking, Mr Lord said.

Despite the "most rain" he had seen, Mr Lord said DOC rangers did a great job looking after trampers - with one ranger even baking a birthday cake for one tramper.

Dutch woman Cindy Puijk was the first tramper to emerge from the sodden Milford Track.

She started the walk on New Year's Eve, but spent two days at the Clinton Hut - the first stop - sheltering from the weather.

The hut warden at Clinton told her the helipad at Mintaro Hut, the next stop, was flooded.

She was forced to abandon her plan to walk the track - which normally takes four days - because she needed to get to Auckland to fly back to the Netherlands tomorrow. Yesterday, she walked back to the start of the track on the Lake Te Anau shore and took the ferry back to Te Anau Downs.

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- The Southland Times

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