Chopper rescue after 'things go wrong'

An 80-year-old man remains in hospital today after "things just went wrong" during a night in the Nelson Lakes bush.

The St Arnaud man was found near Lake Rotoiti by walkers on the Lakehead track about 2pm yesterday.

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter pilot Tim Douglas-Clifford said the two female walkers had passed him at the same spot the day before.

"They asked if he was ok and he said he was."

When the women walked back on Saturday afternoon, they found the man lying in nearby bush "shivering and confused".

The women ran the rest of the track to St Arnaud - about 5km - to raise the alarm.

Douglas-Clifford said the man was winched on-board the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter about 3pm and was treated for hypothermia.

He was then flown to Nelson hospital.

Douglas-Clifford said the man was "extremely" lucky.

The St Arnaud local had been on a day trip and was carrying a backpack, but "things just went wrong basically".

"If [the women] hadn't come back he may not be here now."

A Nelson Hospital spokeswoman said the man was in a stable condition in hospital today.

Fairfax Media