Te Anau community grateful

Amazement and relief were the main reactions of people on the streets of Te Anau yesterday as they reflected on the extraordinary rescue of local men Andrew Hefford, Lester Stevens and John Lambeth from the Auckland Islands on Tuesday.

Rene Duvenhage said she felt ''so grateful'' for the outcome, after following the news of their disappearance throughout that morning.

She believed it was their skills and experience that had pulled them through the ordeal.

''It's an amazing story, and it's the best outcome for our town, their families and the business.''

Julie Murray said their survival was probably due to their vast experience in rescuing others.

''But the fact they're alive is absolutely miraculous.''

Kelly Sweeney said the rescue was an amazing outcome, but felt the men were well-prepared for an emergency because of their equipment and the immersion suits they were wearing at the time of the crash.

Alva Inder said the trio were ''pretty lucky'' to be alive, but it appeared they had got themselves to safety through sheer determination.

''It could've been such a disaster.''

Robin Peters, of Manapouri, said the rescue was ''bloody fantastic''.

''It's not often you have a helicopter accident and everyone walks away.''

Any other outcome would have been devastating for the community, he said.

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