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A young German woman who ignored warnings from other walkers last night sparked a police search and rescue on Roberts Point Track, in the Franz Josef Glacier Valley.
Police this morning said it was ''touch and go'' if the woman, who was walking alone and was ill-prepared, would have survived if she had not been found. She was hypothermic.
Acting senior sergeant Paul Watson, of Greymouth, said the 22-year-old had set out in appalling weather late yesterday afternoon to walk the track on the northern side of the Waiho (Waiau) River, which goes to a high point with a view of the glacier.
The woman had a raincoat and some basic food and water but was otherwise ill-prepared, with no map or compass, and she was wearing only running shoes.
Mr Watson said the woman had not informed anyone of her intentions, but she had met a number of people on the track who urged her to turn back in the face of what was very inclement weather and rising river levels in the area, but she had ignored that advice.
Some time later she realised she was in trouble and was able to use her cellphone to call for help after finding a patch of coverage near the top of the track.
A search team found her near Rope Creek about 7.30pm.
"It was lucky she did have a cellphone at least," Mr Watson said.
"Given the conditions, though, it is very unlikely she would have been able to survive the night."