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Range rescue of lone hiker

The use of a personal locator beacon [PLB] has resulted in another successful rescue in the Tararua Range.

A solo hiker activated their PLB near Mt Neil shortly before 7pm on Thursday after getting lost on their multi-day hike.

Bad weather conditions on Thursday night meant the search had to be paused until first light Friday, when the hiker was found and rescued with the help of a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter.

The hiker did everything right and had essential equipment on hand to get them through the night, according to police.

In a statement, police said that the hiker’s sleeping bag and survival equipment were “crucial in getting them through the night”.

Wellington Search and Rescue Squad member Pete Cadle said telling people your plan and packing a PLB are some of the most important pre-trip tasks a tramper should complete.

“Beacons can be a lifesaver. When one is activated, it alerts New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre, and if someone is in need of assistance, they will send help their way,” Cadle said.

Mountain Safety Council [MSC] chief executive Mike Daisley said the Tararua Range is known for extreme weather conditions with strong wind and low cloud cover, frequent factors that result in poor visibility and add to the challenges already faced by hikers on the terrain.

“The challenge of the rugged Tararua Range can make it a hazardous place, that’s why during trip planning and consideration of alternate routes is essential, as well as having a backup plan and being prepared to stay longer at safe points such as huts,” Daisley said.

Rescues of trampers from the area over the past few weeks “serve as a good reminder for getting that prep in” before any hiking, Daisley said.

This rescue comes only one week after a couple were rescued after activating their PLB when they were forced off the track due to poor weather conditions.

Hikers from Wairarapa can hire PLBs from Wairarapa Rescue Trust for $5 daily at the Masterton Trust Lands Trust office on Queen St. MSC also has a ‘Plan My Walk’ tool, which prompts safe planning and can be used to get the latest weather and track alerts.

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