Lost dad, toddler located in bush

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013

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A leisurely walk for a Taranaki father and his 20-month-old daughter turned into a search and rescue mission.

Yesterday afternoon the father and his young daughter were lost in Egmont National Park after the man took a wrong turn off an overgrown track.

The father raised the alarm with the police after he realised he had gone off track and was unable to make his way back.

The pair left Davies Track, on the Kaitake Range, about 11am and the alarm was raised at 1.20pm.

They were found by a search and rescue dog at 4pm, after making mobile phone contact with the search and rescue team.

Senior Sergeant Matt Prendergast said the father and daughter were uninjured when found.

They returned home once safely out of the track but the father was too embarrassed to speak to media, Prendergast said.

"He has gone in there just for a walk but the track seems to be a bit overgrown at the moment and he's accidentally gone off track.

"He did everything right though. As soon as he realised he was lost he phoned for help and stayed put until he was found.

"He also had extra gear with him just in case," he said.

Around 3.30pm the search and rescue team and a dog set off in search of the pair.

"They started to hear voices just before 4pm and the dog went off track and located the man and his daughter," Prendergast said.

The track is not a very well-used one and it had grown quite thick in places because of the recent weather, he said.

Although the child was only a toddler,  Prendergast said search and rescue were not concerned about a youngster on a family walk in the national park.

"We are Kiwis, it's what we do. We explore, and it's better than sitting in front of the television.

"In hindsight you can think maybe you shouldn't have gone that way with a child, but I don't really think it's a big deal, especially when the track is not rugged or steep. It was just unfortunate that it was overgrown," he said.

The man's partner had been regularly updated by the search team and she was pleased when the duo were found, he said.

"It's important to let a partner or someone know if you are going to a place like this, as cellphone coverage can be a bit limited up there.

"If someone else knows where you are then they can raise the alarm if you don't come home," Prendergast said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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