An Australian tramper was spared a cold and painful night on the Motatapu Track near Wanaka after seriously injuring his lower leg and activating the tramping group’s Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
The man was part of a group of five trampers walking the track. The group had hired a PLB from the Southland Locator Beacon Charitable Trust before setting out on Monday, and activated it late yesterday afternoon (30 October).
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) advised Southern Lakes Helicopters of the situation and a rescue helicopter was dispatched to investigate. On arrival at the scene, it became clear one of the party had seriously injured his lower leg. After being initially treated at the scene he was winched onboard the helicopter and airlifted to Queenstown’s Frankton Hospital.
RCCNZ Search Mission Co-ordinator Tracy Brickles said the incident emphasises the importance of carrying a beacon.
“Hiring a beacon before setting out, as this party did, is an excellent idea. GPS location information from their PLB meant we were able to pinpoint the location and dispatch the Southern Lakes Helicopter to the scene quickly.”
“Carrying a registered, GPS-capable PLB essentially removes “search” from “search and rescue”, greatly enhancing the likelihood of a successful outcome,” said Tracy Brickles.
In an earlier and separate incident, another man was rescued after suffering chest pains on a fishing trip in the Kahurangi National Park, Nelson over the weekend. The 63-year-old and his companion activated their PLB near the Karamea Bend Hut on Friday night, and both men were airlifted to Nelson Hospital by the Nelson-Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.