Two beacon activations saved the day for trampers in tricky situations on the South Island’s West Coast, as the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) facilitated effective rescues.
A man and a woman trapped by rising flood waters and a washed-out track were winched to safety from near the Boo Boo Hut on the Kokatahi River Track in Westland after they activated their personal locator beacon (PLB) shortly before 10.30am, 21 May 2015.
The pair, from the Queenstown-Wanaka area, were trapped between Boo Boo Hut and Crawford Junction Hut and spent a very wet Wednesday night in a makeshift shelter.
The Greymouth-based Coal and Carbon Rescue Helicopter winched the pair to safety and returned them to their car, cold and wet but uninjured.
Later in the day, in the nearby upper Whitcombe Valley, a 56-year-old Christchurch tramper activated a tramping club personal locator beacon at Neave Hutt after injuring his knee on Wednesday.
The Coal and Carbon Rescue Helicopter picked the man up at around 5pm and took him to Greymouth for medical treatment
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Ramon Davis said the incidents once again showed how potentially serious situations can be speedily resolved when distress beacons are used.
“Without the use of personal locator beacons, the trampers in these situations would have been at the very least, very uncomfortable for much longer,” Ramon said. “Either of these incidents could have quickly deteriorated into something more serious.
“PLBs should be the first thing on the equipment list for anyone heading off the beaten track.”
By law, all PLBs must be registered, providing information on emergency contacts for beacon users.