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Five people who raised the alarm after getting stuck above a waterfall near Queenstown on Tuesday should have called emergency services back after extricating themselves, police say.
Police and volunteer firefighters from Queenstown and Frankton rushed to Wye Creek in The Remarkables range after one of the group called 111 at 4.20pm.
Senior Sergeant Paula Enoka said at least one of them had become stranded at the top of the waterfall after moving a boulder.
''That changed the waterfall's flow, which meant they couldn't get back to the path.''
Police thought the Alpine Cliff Rescue team would be needed, and because it was late in the day, put a helicopter on stand-by.
However, as the firefighters walked up to the site, which is about 850m from the Kingston Rd, they met the group of two men and three women on their way down.
Snr Sgt Enoka said that they did the right thing by calling for help, but should have called back when the situation changed.
The five British nationals, who live in Queenstown, were uninjured.