The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter has airlifted man to Nelson Hospital after his float plane crash landed. Photo/ Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter

Helicopter saves hypothermic trampers

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Nelson Police Search and Rescue say two trampers rescued at the weekend put themselves and their rescuers at risk.

Police were contacted by the pair who were in difficulty at about 8:30pm on Saturday.

The 24 year old woman and a 27 year old man from Christchurch were on the Boulder lake track behind Takaka. After entering the track late in the day the couple had problems finding the route in darkness and horrendous weather.

The trampers got completely saturated and the freezing conditions caused one of the party to become hypothermic.

Police were able to locate the trampers’ exact position using “Mobile Locate” technology and rescue teams were dispatched.

A ground team was sent in but due to the pair’s remote location it was going to take approximately 6 hours for the ground team to reach them.

Given the trampers’ deteriorating condition the Nelson Rescue Helicopter was dispatched. However due to the poor weather conditions the Rescue Helicopter was unable to reach the trampers. After several attempts the helicopter had to put down and await a break in the heavy rain and cloud.

At about 3:40am on Sunday the Rescue Helicopter found a small window in the cloud and managed to get to the trampers. Due to the extreme weather conditions the trampers were quickly loaded and up lifted leaving their backpacks and equipment behind.

The rescue helicopter was also used to extract the ground SAR team after one of the members suffered a minor injury.

Sgt Malcolm York said the rescued pair were at real risk of losing their lives and Search and Rescue staff were also put at risk rescuing them from that location in those conditions.

He said Police were disappointed with the decisions the trampers had made.

“They were inexperienced for the route and the weather they took on. They were woefully under-prepared and the equipment and clothing they were using was not appropriate for the winter alpine environment,” Sgt York said.

Police would remind all trampers to check the weather before heading out into the back country.

“Chose a route that matches the ability of everyone in the party and never enter the back country if you are not suitably clothed and equipped,” he said.

Advice on a new route you are attempting should always be discussed with DOC. Advice on clothing and equipment can be accessed from www.adventuresmart.org.nz