School girls rescued after night in bush

A group of school girls and their two instructors have spent a night in the Waikato bush after becoming trapped by a rising river.

The 12 secondary school students were on a multi-day tramp in the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park when their path was blocked by the river, swollen from yesterday's heavy rain.

They were forced off their original track and attempted to find an alternative route, but were unable to and called for help around 6.30pm last night, Waikato District shift commander, senior sergeant Rupert Friend said.

The group were well prepared, with plenty of food and camping gear to spend a night in the forest, he said.

"They've got all the equipment you could ask for and made a good call to not push things too hard, to actually seek help in doing it [finding a way out].

"They've taken the safe option."

The girls, all aged around 14-year-old, had "never really been in any real danger".

It is believed they spent the night close to Karangahake Gorge near Waihi, he said.

Search and rescue teams went into the forest at 7am, taking two different routes, in an attempt to find the safest way out for the group.

The group had set out from Dickey Flat campground yesterday, but it wasn't yet clear when they had set out for their tramp. However, it was known they had intended to be out in the bush for a couple of nights.

There were no fears for their safety, Mr Friend said, as they were so well prepared, including carrying a GPS locator device.


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