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Cliff face rescue

Ocean Beach. Photo/Jade Cvetkov


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Three Wellington hunters stuck on a cliff face were rescued from the unforgiving terrain of Ocean Beach in South Wairarapa late Wednesday, thanks largely to the knowledge and help from a group of local people.

The three men, two aged 34 and one aged 28, arrived at Ocean beach around midday to embark on a goat hunting trip.

Sometime around 3pm, they began to come down along a ridgeline and came to a cliff face.

Even though they could see their cars below from where they were, they were unable to continue their descent and felt stuck where they were.

At 7.30pm, after over three hours of trying to find a way down, they phoned police.

When police arrived, they initiated a cell phone location on the hunters which pinpointed them as being at Corner Creek.

Sergeant Richard Day and Constable Allan French knew time was going to be a factor as it was raining heavily and starting to get dark, so they asked locals exactly where Corner Creek was.

“They were able to point us in the right direction.

“One of them grabbed a quad bike and we went for a ride up the riverbed until we found them” said Mr Day.

By then other residents alerted to the commotion came to help.

Without their help, one of the only other options was to call out the Westpac Rescue Helicopter but due to strong winds in the area and the location being close to a rock face, it was considered too dangerous.

The hunters were only 400m or so from the Ocean Beach road and from a particular angle there was an obvious route which could be taken to reach them and a method of descending which the locals were familiar with.

“They know the area and hunt in the area so the people who went up there had been on that cliff face before and they knew the route to go up and down,” Mr Day said.

The volunteers climbed straight up to an area on the rock face around 40 metres up the cliff and were able to guide the goat hunters over to an area where they were able to climb down safely.

“They were conscious it would soon become dark and would become very unsafe.

“We would end up needing Search and Rescue to help, with abseiling equipment to get them down” Mr Day said.

It was around 10pm before the hunters were safely returned to their vehicles and were able to make the trip back to Wellington.

They were cold, a little frightened but mostly thankful to police and the eight local people who helped get them down.

Mr Day said the hunters were adequately prepared for their day trip but were not equipped to spend the night  there.

“It is a common area for experienced hunters but it is very unforgiving terrain and in my opinion not the sort of terrain three Wellington people would normally go hunting, unless they were very experienced.”

Both Mr Day and Mr French gave a big thank you the Ocean Beach people.

Without them, things could have turned out much differently.

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