Two Kiwi tourists who survived an 18-hour ordeal after a
ferry sank in Indonesia are due back in New Zealand today.
Golden Bay couple Gaylene Wilkinson, 53, and Tony Lawton, 52,
had to cling to the hull of the sinking wooden boat for 11
hours after it capsized last Saturday night.
They then had to swim in scorching heat to a desolate
volcanic island, where the lack of fresh water forced them to
drink their own urine to survive. They were later rescued by
The New Zealanders had been among 20 foreigners on the
fateful ferry trip between the islands of Lombok and Komodo.
Ms Wilkinson's mother, Ngaire, said the couple were due to
fly into Auckland from Bali this morning. They would then fly
She said she would be relieved to see her daughter and Mr
"They've just got to get home now. It was pretty horrible,
The couple might go back to Mrs Wilkinson's home, or continue
on to their home in Takaka, Golden Bay, where they had
animals to tend to.
Mrs Wilkinson said the couple had been "pretty traumatised"
and had only just survived the ordeal.
"It was pretty touch and go. Tony's quite badly burnt with
sunburn, and his eyes were very sore," she said.
"To survive, they had to drink their own urine. They landed
on that remote island, a volcanic island ... there was
nothing there, no water or anything."
The couple had lost everything on the ferry, and were left
with "only what they were swimming in," Mrs Wilkinson said.
Their insurer had given them money to buy clothes and
toiletries, and the embassy had assisted with temporary
passports and accommodation.
They were staying in Bali, where they were "trying to
The couple, who are both search and rescue volunteers, had
always been quite adventurous, Mrs Wilkinson said.
Ms Wilkinson had just retired as a teacher at Golden Bay High
School last year.
"It was her birthday, the day they left, so Tony thought, 'Oh
well, we'll go and have a holiday for her birthday, and have
an adventure.' Well, it turned out some adventure, didn't
The couple had been having a really good time until the ferry
"They'd been biking and scuba diving and riding the tubes and
the waves and that, surfing."
They had been due to finish their six-week holiday at end of
the month. Now they just wanted to get home, Mrs Wilkinson
- By Matthew Backhouse of APNZ