Trampers safe after night in shelter

Four Australian trampers who were reported missing on Fiordland's Kepler Track on Sunday night are ''good as gold'' after spending the night in an alpine shelter.

Department of Conservation senior ranger Ken Bradley, of Te Anau, said the group decided to stay at the emergency shelter between the Luxmore and Iris Burn huts after some of them became tired.

He understood the trampers, who are in their 50s, may have been caught out after delaying their start from Luxmore Hut because of rain earlier in the day.

''They were seen by other people to be a bit slow.

''They've just overestimated their physical capability.''

Although the Iris Burn hut warden was aware the group did not arrive on Sunday night, the alarm would only have been raised after 24 hours, as trampers often changed their plans, Mr Bradley said.

The group walked to Iris Burn Hut yesterday morning before carrying on to Moturau Hut.

Trampers spent the night in emergency shelters on the track two or three times a season, usually after underestimating walking times, he said.

The track between the Luxmore and Iris Burn huts - usually the second day of the three-day or four-day tramp - usually takes four to five hours.

Two Canadian men were killed in an avalanche on that section of the Kepler in July.

The bodies of Louis-Vincent Lessard and Etienne Lemieux (both 23) were found 350m below the track.

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