Helicopter rescues five men and four dogs, lost in Tararua Ranges

News from NZ Police
A hunting group of five men and their four dogs were air-lifted from the Northern Tararua Ranges in the Mangahao area yesterday afternoon.

Police were contacted at around 1:15pm by one of the men after they managed to find cell phone coverage. A search and rescue operation was launched with support from Horowhenua SAR volunteers and the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.

“The group, aged in their late teens to early 50s, did have a GPS device and were well acquainted with the area; however they were woefully ill-prepared and did not have an emergency locator beacon which is a life-saving piece of equipment,” says Sergeant Andy Brooke, Manawatü SAR coordinator.

The group had entered the area from Tokomaru Valley Road and walked to the Mangahao River on the afternoon of Saturday. At the time the weather was fine and the group crossed the river and walked through the bush to their campsite.

Overnight the weather deteriorated and when they returned to the river they could not cross as the river had swollen to dangerous levels. They then attempted to climb towards the Burn Hut loop track to find a route to get them out of the area.

“The group spent Sunday night out in the open and huddled together as the weather deteriorated further. They had become trapped in dense bush and were unable to make their own way out.

“All members of the group were under-equipped to handle a change in plans when the elements deteriorated and did not carry any form of shelter or weather appropriate clothing to spend a night out in the bush.”

The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter located the group who were very difficult to see from the air in the dense bush. The men and their dogs were then winched out and taken to a safe location.

All members of the exhausted party were suffering from varying degrees of mild hypothermia.

“The men and their dogs were very lucky and this situation once again highlights the need to be prepared for emergencies and have alternate plans when venturing into the outdoors, whether it is into the hills or on the water.

“Cell phones should not be relied upon as a means of emergency communication. People should consider taking an emergency locater beacon or a radio hired from the Mountain Radio Service,” says Sergeant Brooke.

 

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