Briggs and Little Dog 'eyed each other up'

Injured tramper Matthew Briggs. Photo by the Greymouth Star.
Injured tramper Matthew Briggs. Photo by the Greymouth Star.
With rations low and no help in sight, marooned tramper Matthew Briggs and his faithful companion Little Dog "eyed each other up" after almost a week in the wild.

• Battered tramper's 8-day ordeal

Mr Briggs, 34, is recovering in hospital in Greymouth after spending 12 days alone and injured in the dense South Westland bush. He fell down a five-metre bluff near the Douglas Glacier on March 20.

"I got my T-shirt out and put compression on the wound. I started looking for my locator beacon."

Slowly, the realisation dawned that his only lifeline had either fallen out, or not been packed. Used to his own company, he set up an emergency bivvy tent and dragged his sleeping bag out of the creek, he told a media conference today. He put Little Dog on half rations and he ate muesli bars. He put salt on his wounds to prevent gangrene, and then waited. And waited. He knew friends would not raise the alarm for seven days.

Mr Briggs said he could see the Horace Walker Hut glinting in the sun in the distance as he lay injured. Finally, he decided to fashion crutches out of tent poles and spent two days hobbling on broken legs through rugged terrain and rivers to reach the hut.

Two hunters found him on Monday and walked 13 hours to raise the alarm.

The experienced tramper and possum hunter, originally from England, but now living in the Central Otago town of Middlemarch, said once he could see his wounds were clear of infection knew he could make it.

Upbeat about his survival feat, he said Little Dog had a rougher time of it.

"It went on half rations and on Friday wasn't fed. On Saturday, we shared a muesli bar. We were eyeing each other up for a while!"

Mr Briggs had surgery yesterday and was due to have more today. Police have criticised Mr Briggs for not leaving enough information about where he was going. He acknowledged that he should have left more detailed intentions.

He had not written down his level of experience, or where he had parked the car.

"It was complacency because I thought I had a (locator) beacon."

Nicknamed the "Mad Pom", Mr Briggs said he was still mad on the outdoors and planned to stay in New Zealand.

He also plans to shout a beer for the hunters who helped him.