Swift water team rescues stranded tramper

Members of the Wanaka swift water rescue team Dave Cassaidy (front), Rachel Moore (standing) and...
Members of the Wanaka swift water rescue team Dave Cassaidy (front), Rachel Moore (standing) and team leader Luke Faed pack up their inflatable raft used to rescue a tramper near the Haast Pass. PHOTO: MARK PRICE
A 22-year-old tramper who got into difficulty near the Haast Pass on Saturday afternoon used hand signals to raise the alarm.

The area is well out of cellphone range, but the tramper managed to signal she was stranded on the far side of the flooded Haast River from the car park at Fantail Falls.

She then waited for the arrival of the Wanaka swift water rescue team which successfully floated her across the river on an inflatable raft.

Team member Dave Cassaidy said it was on a canyon-training search and rescue course in Wanaka when it got the call.

He said the tramper "did all the right things" by staying put.

"We used an inflatable mini raft, like a sledge, designed for floating a patient across gentle moving water."

The river was in less than gentle condition, but the raft "performed perfectly for this job".

The woman had been on an overnight trip to the Brewster Hut about two to three "arduous" hours' walk above the river.

"This is the classic scenario," Mr Cassaidy said.

"You come down from the hill, the river's in flood and you just want to get across to your car.

"The message is: `Don't'. Just wait it out until the conditions become more favourable."

Detective Al Lee said the woman attracted attention by waving to motorists in the car park.

"Good old hand signals."

Det Lee said she appeared "remarkable well".

She was taken away in a Makarora Volunteer Rural Fire and Emergency van.

More heavy rain fell in the area yesterday and more is expected today.

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