'Exhausted' couple rescued near Mt Cook

Aoraki Mt Cook. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A couple in their 60s have been airlifted to safety after falling and becoming severely exhausted during a hike in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

The couple set off an alert from a personal locator beacon about 2pm yesterday after bad weather and severe exhaustion meant they could not get themselves to safety.

But - due to bad weather - a rescue helicopter was not able to reach the pair and instead dropped a four-man cliff rescue team lower down on the mountain, Rescue Co-ordination Centre NZ manager Kevin Banaghan said.

The team climbed up from Caroline Hutt to Ball Pass where "they found the couple mentally and physically exhausted, having experienced a few falls".

"The decision was made to spend the night in the lee of the Ball Pass," Banaghan said.

A helicopter was able to reach the couple early on Thursday afternoon and took them and rescue team personnel to Bull Hutt Rd.

The couple were transferred by road to the Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Rescue base where they were assessed, and no further medical attention was required.

David Dittmer, who is in charge of Department of Conservation rescue operations in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, reminded hikers to ensure they had the right safety gear and experience before setting off on big mountains.

"In this case, weather conditions got the better of this couple, and they realised they could not get out without putting themselves at greater risk," he said.


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