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The Wellington-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter rescued a lost tramper in National Park, just south of Waikune about 2:00 this morning.
The helicopter, equipped with it's Forward Looking Infar Red (FLIR) camera, Night Vision Goggles, Nite Sun and a search team left Wellington shortly after 11pm. The team stopped at Palmerston North to top up fuel and to pick up a search and rescue specialist with good knowledge of the search area.
"This was one of the trickiest searches I have been involved in" says Colin Larsen, Westpac Rescue Helicopter Crewman. "We had intermittent contact with the lost man via his cellphone and he was extremely difficult to locate due to the terrain, his dark clothing and his location stuck amongst 80 foot trees".
Just over an hour after the helicopter team began it's search the man was able to maintain enough cellphone coverage to talk the helicopter pilot into his location. Once located a resucer was winched down to the man and they were both winched out.
"Even when we were practically right above him he was quite difficult to spot" says Westpac Rescue Helicopter Pilot Harry Stevenson. "Ironically the bright moon made searching with our night vision goggles a bit difficult at times, but in the end we found him and were able to pull him out of the bush".
Conditions in the area were cold but there was very little wind.
Once winched aboard the helicopter he was taken to waiting a nearby Search and Rescue Police Squad who were able to look after him.
We have no information about his name or age but we do understand that he is a visiting Swiss National and are guessing he is in his early 20's. He was uninjured other than being quite cold and a bit battered and bruised.
For more information please contact:
Westpac Rescue Helicopter
029 233 8284