Storm-hit tramper grateful to rescuers
A 20-year-old Dutch tourist who got lost in Mt Richmond Forest Park has thanked his rescuers for saving him.
The man and two rescuers were forced to spend Thursday night on Mt Rintoul after bad weather prevented the rescue helicopter from picking them up.
The Nelson Marlborough rescue helicopter attempted to collect the tramper and the search and rescue team yesterday morning around 6.30am, but bad weather again thwarted the attempt.
A further attempt around 9.30am was successful.
The young man, who declined to give his name, activated his locator beacon after the weather rapidly changed and he was unable to find the track.
"I couldn't go forward because I couldn't see the poles [route markers]. I thought it was better to set off the beacon and stay put rather than go down the hill into an area I didn't know."
Rescuers were unable to get any information from the locator beacon, which had been hired from Rollos Outdoor Centre.
Because the beacon had no information about who needed rescuing, the rescue team had gone into Old Man Hut and looked at the log book.
Helicopter crewman Hamish Pirie said the man had done everything right.
"Staying put when he set the beacon off was the right thing to do."
The man said he was on exchange from the Netherlands and had spent the last five months in Wellington.
He had been a member of a tramping club in the capital and had come to the South Island to travel and walk some of the tracks.
"I'm so thankful to them [his rescuers]. I'm very happy they came to rescue me, without them I'd be in trouble, I think."
Search and rescue member Aaron Hunter said the man had been pretty happy to see them.
He and fellow rescuer Rob Hambrook had been dropped off around 8.30pm and found the man just after 9pm.
It had been a very wet night, with thunder, lightning and sleet. "It couldn't get much worse," Mr Hunter said.
They had been unable to reach the hut, and had pitched a two-man tent, which was "very cosy" with three of them in it, he said.
The tourist said he would be spending the next few days in Nelson drying out his gear and was unsure if he would be going tramping again.
The Nelson Mail