Warning reiterated after tourists get into trouble

Photo: RNZ (file image)
Photo: RNZ (file image)
An unprepared group of day walkers were caught out overnight on Mt Brewster, near Haast Pass, last week, giving added credence to warnings about the overpromotion of the walk and the downplaying of its dangers.

The tourists had walked to the hut and pushed on to the glacier but got into difficulty when heading back down the mountain.

Wānaka Search and Rescue (SAR) member Aaron Nicholson said two of the walkers got into trouble; one got a sore knee and the other started getting cold. Emergency services were contacted about 2.30pm on May 1.

Low cloud meant rescue by helicopter was ruled out.

Members of the Wānaka SAR were flown to just below the cloud line and then walked to the party. They took the two injured people to the hut in darkness to spend the night. The cloud lifted the next day and a helicopter picked them up from the hut.

Police were also involved.

Senior Sergeant Fiona Roberts said yesterday the rescued people were not prepared for the environment.

‘‘Know your ability and be aware that it is a challenging undertaking ... often people are attracted to the area due to social media postings," she said.

‘‘Mt Brewster is alpine environment. The terrain has complications, ranging from being vulnerable to rising river levels at the beginning of the track to the glacier at the summit.

‘‘The walk from the hut to the glacier traverses a bowl that gets covered in snow and ice.

‘‘It requires navigation skills, appropriate gear and avalanche and mountaineering awareness.

‘‘This is not a route that relies on luck."

There had already been numerous rescues in the area, for many reasons, and police wanted people to follow the simple rules outlined in a red warning sign at the beginning of the Mt Brewster track, she said.

Mr Nicholson said as soon as someone got off the track, the area became very difficult.

‘‘It is becoming like Roy’s Peak — getting more and more popular. It is very accessible, on the main road, a tourist route, but there is snow up there and there is avalanche danger there too," he said.

People were not aware of how difficult the conditions were.

Precautions included taking a personal locater beacon, planning the trip and the route, knowing your limits, checking the weather, taking supplies and telling people about your plans. — Additional reporting Steve Hepburn