Camera flash guides rescuers to lost trampers

Two lost trampers were rescued overnight using night-vision goggles and the flash of their camera.

The women, both believed to be in their early 30s, spent hours under a makeshift shelter after missing their turnoff and becoming lost in the Tutaekuri River area in the foothills of the Southern Alps yesterday.

The pair had been tramping with two men, from Christchurch and Boston, USA. The group left the Tutaekuri Hut on Friday morning for a fishing trip up the Trent River, but separated at about 2pm with the women intending to return to the hut.

However, when the men arrived back at the hut at 7.30pm the women were not there.

After waiting for several hours they activated a personal locator beacon (PLB).

When the Greymouth-based New Zealand Coal & Carbon Rescue Helicopter arrived just before midnight, crew members on the ground used night-vision goggles to search for the women, while the helicopter continued an aerial search.

One of the women then used her digital camera's flash to attract the attention of the pilot.

They were found cold but uninjured in the Waiheke River valley, some 10km from the hut, the NZCC helicopter said.

The women had missed the correct turnoff at the confluence of the Tutaekuri and Trent Rivers and continued downstream, walking up the Waiheke valley.


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