A Czech tramper who went missing on the inland pack track
between Fox River and Punakaiki on Saturday was "ill-equipped
and ill-experienced", say police.
Jiri Dohnal, 27, walked to the Fox River caves with two
compatriots on Saturday, then decided to complete the inland
pack track alone, said police search and rescue co-ordinator
Sergeant Sean Judd.
Mr Dohnal failed to return by 7pm Saturday as planned and the
alarm was sounded Sunday morning.
A helicopter found him at Dilemma Creek about 2pm on Sunday.
He was trying to retrace his steps to Fox River, because the
pack track was blocked by storm debris, Mr Judd said.
He had spent a miserable night in the open lightly clad, with
no shelter or food, and was hypothermic. He had swapped his
tramping boots for sandals to stop his boots getting wet.
Mr Judd said Mr Dohnal was extremely pleased to see his
rescuers, because he was becoming weak and having difficulty
walking. "He was cold, tired, wet and hungry."
The pack track was not a casual walk and there had been a
number of fatalities in that area.
About 10 search and rescue volunteers, as well as police, had
been called out for the search. Some of them had been working
all weekend following the Buller storms and were still trying
to fix damage to their own homes, Mr Judd said.
- By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News