A pair of US tourists had to be rescued by a police search
and rescue team after becoming stranded on the banks of the
Haast River yesterday afternoon.
Wanaka police were alerted to the distressed couple's
predicament about 1.30pm yesterday.
Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Aaron Nicholson said
the couple, a man aged 33 and a woman aged 30 had walked to
the Mt Brewster Hut from the Fantail Falls car park, just
north of the Haast/Wanaka divide on State Highway 6, then
crossed the Haast River on Sunday for a day's ski touring.
Bad weather meant the pair stayed in the hut on Sunday night
and then tried to walk out yesterday, getting stranded on the
wrong side of the rising Haast River. The pair spent a day in
the pouring rain in a makeshift shelter.
A passing courier van driver noticed the pair waving
frantically from the other side of the river and raised the
Even getting to the rescue site was difficult for rescuers,
Mr Nicholson said.
"There was a lot of debris on the road as a result of the
weather conditions. About 2km from where the pair was on the
other side of the river a large tree had been blown across
the road completely blocking the highway.
"The rescue team used hand saws to cut the tree's branches
and pulled branches off the road with their 4x4 vehicle to
get access to a point where they could potentially undertake
The team used an inflatable raft to ferry the stranded pair
back to the roadside.
Mr Nicholson praised the couple's decision not to try to
cross the river.
"These two did the right thing by not trying to swim across
the river. Given the poor weather conditions at the time and
the amount of water that was pumping we would have certainly
had a fatality on our hands if they had tried to swim the
river," he said.
The couple were on a six-month working holiday in New Zealand
and due to leave for the United States next week. They were
both cold but otherwise in good spirits after their ordeal.
Last month a Canadian couple were killed when their campervan
was swept into the flooded Haast River by a landslip during a
The body of Joanna Lam was later found but that of her
boyfriend Connor Hayes is still missing.