Torch leads rescuers to missing hiker in Raglan bushland
Sneaker footprints led rescuers to a lost hiker who was stuck down a steep cliff for a day and a half.
The 40-year-old man missing in Raglan bushland was then able to signal a rescue helicopter using the light on his keychain torch.
Police had launched a search for the local after his family reported him missing from a hike on Sunday.
He had parked his car in the parking lot of the Te Toto Gorge walk while he undertook his intended day long hike.
His car was found sitting empty that afternoon.
The Te Toto Gorge track winds up to the summit of Mt Karioi and boasts panoramic views of the west coast.
"The man had gone for a walk and slipped down a steep bank, several hundred metres below the car park, into the bush and was unable to get out," Waikato police Senior Sergeant Dave Raffan said.
Search and rescue staff with the help of nine volunteers assembled on Monday evening and entered the bushland.
They were helped by the Waikato Westpac Rescue helicopter, who flew overhead canvassing the bushland from the sky at 11.30pm.
"Two of the search team located two sneaker prints going down off the track and thought it was rather odd," Raffan said.
Believing the man was wearing sneakers, they alerted search teams and the rescue helicopter who were equipped with night vision goggles from above.
Hearing the helicopter, Raffan said the man used the small torch on his set of keys to shine a light to his location below.
"He flashed his lights and they located him. He was hypothermic and lucky to be alive."
Raffan said the man was winched out from the bottom of the cliff where he had spent a day and a half.
"He was reasonably dressed for a small trip but was not prepared to be out overnight."
The hiker did have a cellphone but was unable to get any reception from the bottom of the bank.
Raffan said the man had substantial bruising and grazes.
He was taken back to Raglan police station before being flown to Waikato Hospital where he was discharged on Tuesday afternoon.
"We wanted to thank all the volunteers who helped."