Rescue helicopter finds five young trampers, overdue in Otaki Forks

News from NZ Police
A search began today for five young trampers overdue in the Otaki Forks area of the Taraua Ranges.

They had left Otaki Forks on Monday intending to tramp to Penn Creek Hut via Judd Ridge and return via the river route on New Year’s Day.

The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter, with a Levin SAR member and a paramedic on board, located the group at Penn Creek Hut this evening. Volunteers from Horowhenua LandSAR were on standby to walk into the area if the helicopter had not found them.

The group had been travelling down the river yesterday but came to an area that was too difficult to traverse. They made the wise decision to turn back. They spent the night on the track on the way back to Penn Creek Hut and continued on to the hut today.

They were drying out their gear at the hut, intending to go back to Otaki Forks via Judd Ridge tomorrow, when found by the helicopter team.

The group were all well and in good spirits.

While this situation was resolved fairly quickly and involved good decision making on the part of the group, it is a reminder to take at least two forms of communication with you when venturing into the outdoors. A personal locator beacon (PLB) would have alerted authorities that there was a problem at a certain location which could have reduced the search time.

A satellite communication device such as a SPOT or inReach would have enabled the group to advise their contacts that they were ok, but running late, and of their location.


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