Rob Munn (32) and Suszie Tyree (23), of Dunedin, are
relieved to be here to tell the tale of their rescue from
the wilderness during an ill-fated tramping trip near Lake
Hawea. Miss Tyree is still recovering from injuries to her
knees suffered during the ordeal. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Two Dunedin students rescued from remote bush near Lake
Hawea after their two-day tramping trip took a bad turn last
weekend say the biggest lesson learned from their ordeal is to
always carry a locator beacon in the back country.
''We wouldn't go out again without one,'' Rob Munn (32) said.
He and partner Suszie Tyree (23) were airlifted from the
Timaru River Valley on Saturday during a search and rescue
operation, and this week were counting their blessings while
recuperating at Miss Tyree's family holiday home at Lake
The pair, both fit and experienced trampers, set out on
Thursday with a friend to complete the Breast Hill Track
loop. After failing to make Stodys Hut - their intended
destination for day one - they stayed at Pakituhi Hut below
the Breast Hill summit, instead. The delay prompted their
friend to push on ahead the next day.
''He was supposed to be meeting his mother for dinner,'' Miss
The couple headed down the Timaru River Valley where the
river remained high, despite several days passing since heavy
rain in the area. They had expected two river crossings based
on earlier checks of topographical maps, but nine hours into
what should have been a six-hour trek to the Timaru River car
park, they had crossed the river more than 20 times.
They were anxious to get home to Miss Tyree's mother Sandra,
whose father, former Logan Park High School principal Arch
Wilson, was killed during an ascent of Mt Aspiring 33 years
ago. Mr Wilson's body was never found.
''I knew my mum would be worried if we didn't get back so we
probably pushed ... a bit harder than we should have,'' Miss
The turning point came when Miss Tyree lost her footing and
was swept downstream during a crossing, banging her knees on
the river bed.
''It just really drove home ... that even really normally
benign tracks can turn into quite dangerous ones quite
rapidly, especially in river valleys,'' Mr Munn said.
Already fatigued and with Miss Tyree injured and shaken, the
couple chose to hunker down for the night. Although
well-equipped with warm gear and enough provisions for three
days, they had no cellphone coverage to alert anyone to their
They tied a red bag to a rock to attract rescuers and were
eventually picked up by helicopter shortly after the alarm
was raised by Miss Tyree's distressed mother the following
''A serious injury can happen to anyone, any time, and having
a way to alert the SAR guys straight away would have been
really good,'' Mr Munn said.
''Even if you're well-equipped and well-experienced, you can
still get into trouble and an Epirb [emergency
position-indicating radio beacon] is really valuable to