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Two Dunedin men who became lost and spent nearly 24 hours alone in a forestry block were not meant to be in the area, police say.
The two men, aged 20 and 22, sparked a police search after they were reported missing early yesterday, more than 12 hours after they set out bike riding in the Wenita forestry block in Mosgiel.
They were found by searchers about 11.30am as they returned to their car and trailer at Berwick village.
Sergeant Kevin Davidson, of Mosgiel, said the pair became lost and went to ground before finding their way back to the vehicle in the morning.
They had been travelling with one quad bike and one off-road motorcycle.
Sgt Davidson said the pair entered private property at Wenita Forest Products and should not have been there without getting a permit from the forestry owners.
''In another hour it would have become a search and rescue operation, which would have meant anyone with a permit would have had it cancelled and no-one would have been allowed in there.
''[These searches] impact quite severely on other people and other users of that area.''
Sgt Davidson said the incident was a reminder to people to obtain the proper permits before entering private areas.
''The main reason is if situations like this occur, where a person becomes lost or overdue, then we've got an idea as to what block they're in.''
Sgt Davidson said the pair did the right thing by going to ground and attempting to find their way back at dawn.
The quad bike had become bogged several times as they struggled to return to their starting point, he said.
It was unclear how the men, wearing only light clothing, became lost or how they kept themselves warm.
They appeared to be in good health and did not require medical assistance.
Sgt Davidson said police had talked to the men after they were found and no further action was necessary.
Acting Senior Sergeant James Ure, of Dunedin, said police found a Nissan Skyline and empty trailer early yesterday after being alerted.
Police and Wenita forestry staff searched the ''labyrinth'' of forestry roads from where the car was parked.
Police received a call from one of the men's partners about the same time they were found at the vehicle.