Rescued Australian tourist thought he was going to die

Rhys Chamberlain/Stuff.co.nz

Australian holidaymaker Robert Galdamez speaks about his harrowing ordeal lost in the Queenstown bush for two nights.

Rescued Australian Robert Galdamez says at one point he thought he was going to die.

The 25-year-old holidaymaker from Melbourne spent two freezing nights lost in bush on Ben Lomond above the Queenstown gondola and was rescued by police and search and rescue teams on Thursday morning.

Galdamez said he became lost after reaching the top of the Ben Lomond track and not being able to find his way back.

Australian holidaymaker Robert Galdamez says he's lucky to be alive after spending two nights lost in the Queenstown bush.
Rhys Chamberlain

Australian holidaymaker Robert Galdamez says he's lucky to be alive after spending two nights lost in the Queenstown bush.

"I definitely feel quite lucky," Galdamez said from a Lakes District Hospital bed on Thursday morning. "At one point, I really thought about giving up."

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In Queenstown on holiday, Galdamez said when he tried to go back, he went in the "complete opposite direction" before sending a text to family and hunkering down.

Missing Australian tourist Robert Galdamez has been found.
RHYS CHAMBERLAIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Missing Australian tourist Robert Galdamez has been found.

"I had no choice. I had to do what I had to do to make it through."

With no food and very little water, he lit a fire and tried to stay warm.

"I was very, very scared."

Bob's Peak and the Skyline gondola viewed from downtown Queenstown.
STEVE WILDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Bob's Peak and the Skyline gondola viewed from downtown Queenstown.

Galadmez said he had no idea how long it would take for rescuers to get to him and was frustrated to see a rescue helicopter fly over him on several occasions.

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"At that point I really thought I wasn't going to make it. It wasn't until the rescue team members found me with their dog that I screamed out."

Apart from a bit of hypothermia and a sore throat and chest from "screaming for help", Galamez was otherwise uninjured. His mother and a family friend were due to arrive in Queenstown on Thursday to be with him.

Queenstown Sergeant Chris Brooks hands out flyers in the search for missing Australian tourist Robert Galdamez.
RHYS CHAMBERLAIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Queenstown Sergeant Chris Brooks hands out flyers in the search for missing Australian tourist Robert Galdamez.

He was found at 12.20am on Thursday after being missing for about 30 hours and taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia, a police spokesperson said.

The search and rescue was operation included a helicopter with night vision, search dogs and ground searchers.​

Police had been handing out flyers in the resort town after Galdamez went for a walk on Tuesday afternoon up Bob's Peak, the mountain that overlooks Queenstown and home to the Skyline Gondola.

He was not equipped to be in the elements overnight, police said.

 - Stuff

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