Tramp confusion triggers search

A misunderstanding nearly led to a full-scale search and rescue operation being launched yesterday after two 61-year-old Hamilton men were reported overdue from a tramping trip on the Motatapu Track.

Wanaka police search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Aaron Nicholson said the alarm was raised on Tuesday evening by the wife of one of the men, who had expected to meet the pair at the Arrowtown end of the track that day.

After eight hours waiting at the designated collection point with no sign of the men, the woman had contacted police in Wanaka, where she was staying. Sgt Nicholson said based on inquiries about the men's capabilities and how well-equipped they were, there were no immediate concerns about their safety. However, with no sign of them by midday yesterday, a low-key search was initiated. A helicopter flyover of the track quickly located the pair who were safe and well and approaching the end of their tramp.

It unfolded there had been some confusion between the parties involved over which day the men were due out, Sgt Nicholson said.

''We think it was a significant misunderstanding in terms of communication.''

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz