A critically injured woman was airlifted from a Canterbury
glacier in a dramatic rescue overnight.
The Christchurch woman and two men from Wellington had set
off on Friday and were due to complete their climbing trip
About 8.45pm the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said
they received an alert from a personal locator beacon from
Cameron Glacier on the Arrowsmith Range.
A Westpac Rescue Helicopter with night vision equipment left
from Christchurch at 9.30pm with a paramedic on board. The
climbers were found about an hour later, but their position
on the glacier, near the upper reaches of the Rakaia River,
was too tight to allow winching and the helicopter had to
Both of the woman's legs were broken and rescuers carried her
for about 45 minutes in darkness, through snow and ice, to
MetService said winds in the area reached 50km/h and, during
the rescue, an avalanche occurred about 200 metres from the
The woman was flown to Christchurch Hospital for treatment,
while the two men opted to remain on the glacier overnight
and organise private helicopter transport out of the area
RCCNZ search and rescue officer Chris Henshaw said the
incident was a stark illustration of how carrying a personal
locator beacon saves lives.
"Had the party not been able to quickly make contact with
search and rescue authorities, there is no doubt that the
woman could have died, given the environment and the extent
of her injuries," he said.
"This rescue provides yet another example of the importance
of people carrying a PLB when they set out on foot or by
boat. Registering the beacon means the owner's emergency
contacts can provide details of the planned trip and rescuers
can get to them faster."