Rescuers are grateful two Auckland women seriously injured after an all-terrain vehicle plunged 10 to 12 metres into a gully in the Tapawera area had a cellphone with them to raise the alarm.
It took firefighters over 45 minutes to find the women, both in their 50s, because the pair were unfamiliar with the area they were in.
It took firefighters another hour to winch the women to safety, using ropes and stretchers.
Firefighters made do with the equipment they had and the stretchers were dragged across a ladder and up the hill for part of the rescue.
"We are just so bloody pleased they had a cellphone with them as things could have been so different," Tapawera Volunteer Fire Brigade fire chief Dean Millar says.
Mr Millar said the women were not trapped in the vehicle, but locating them and rescuing them was a tricky job.
The women were staying in a remote location on the farm and the alarm was raised about 3.30pm yesterday.
The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter sent both its helicopters to the scene to fly the women back.
A spokesman for the helicopter service said after the first helicopter arrived it became clear the severity of the accident would require a second helicopter. The women were assessed by the helicopter's onboard intensive care paramedic, before the first was removed up a steep bank.
Police also assisted the Tapawera fire crew and the helicopter crew with getting the women up the bank.
The first woman was in a serious condition. The second patient was brought up a short time later and flown to Nelson Hospital by the second helicopter.
The helicopter had a busy afternoon yesterday.
It was initially sent to the Murchison Medical Centre about 3.15pm to pick up a 23-year-old man from the Murchison area who had suffered abdominal injuries as a result of being hit and thrown in the air by a cow on his dairy farm.
The man was flown to Nelson Hospital for specialist medical treatment.
- © Fairfax NZ News