Two Taiwanese tourists - a man aged 30 and a woman aged 34 - have been rescued from Red Crater summit on Mt Tongariro tonight after getting lost while hiking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
They rang Police at 2.30pm to say they'd lost their way in cloud and needed help. They had followed the track for about 4 hours, but lost the poled route near South Crater and wandered around for one and half hours before phoning Police. Seven LandSAR teams from National Park and Turangi were sent in to search for them. After battling rain, low cloud and darkness a search team found the duo at 9.30pm.
"Fortunately the lost hikers had a cell phone with a GPS function which allowed them to give Police valuable information of their whereabouts" said Constable Conrad Smith of the National Park Police.
"There were a few challenges during the search as the couple spoke poor English, so a Mandarin translator was used to get more information from them. Cell phone communication was intermittent and the pair kept moving to avoid the bad weather. They eventually found their way to Red Crater as night fell and that is where they stayed until found."
Two LandSAR teams combined to give the tourists dry clothes, warm drink and food, before starting the 2 hour trek back to the Mangatepopo Road end. Constable Smith praised the efforts of the LandSAR teams, who put in a great effort in very trying conditions with visibility down to 5 metres, steady rain and strong wind.