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Two runners rescued from Tararua Range

A Wairarapa police Land Search and Rescue [LSAR] team assisted by the Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust [HBRHT] came to the aid of two runners near Mount Cone in the Tararua Range on Tuesday night.

The rescue of the pair took place at 7.15pm after they reported they had gotten lost during a run, Sergeant Anthony Matheson said.

“The pair had been training for an upcoming event and had run from the Waiohine Gorge while attempting a 32km circuit, lost their way while descending from Mount Neil, and were stranded in the dark,” he said.

“They were lightly equipped, and sub-zero temperatures were forecast for overnight, so time was of the essence in finding them.

The HBRHT delivered the LSAR team to nearby Mt Cone, and the two runners were found sharing a survival blanket, cold and shivering, at about 1000m altitude, several hours walk from the nearest road, Matheson said.

The pair were flown out of the park before it began to rain.

It is understood that both individuals were assessed by a paramedic but did not need further medical attention.

A spokesperson from Wairarapa Search and Rescue Inc. said that the pair were able to phone in their call for help because they were at a high enough altitude to get a good signal. “They were located in the ranges north of Waiohine Gorge – if you were standing at the gorge, you would be looking towards Levin,” the spokesperson said.

“It was about an hour’s walk up from Cone Hut.”

Matheson said that, as the winter season sets, it’s increasingly important for people to be properly prepared when they go out running or tramping.

“Forests like the Tararua Forest Park can be harsh and unforgiving during the colder months,” he said.

Matheson had five key tips.

First, choose the right trip for you, learn about the routes, and make sure you know your limits and have the skills for it.

Second, remember the weather changes fast, so check the forecast and change your plans if needed.

Third, pack warm clothes and extra food and prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.

Fourth, take care of yourself and each other, including making sure to eat, drink, and rest. Stick with your group and make decisions together.

Fifth, share your plans and ensure you have a way of calling for help – tell a trusted person your trip details, and remember that carrying a distress beacon can save your life.

Distress beacons can be hired for as little as $10 from many Department of Conservation Visitor Centres, as well as outdoor tramping and hunting stores.

“If you have purchased a beacon, register it at beacons.org.nz,” he said.

Matheson also suggested people visit the mountainsafety.org.nz website for more information on outdoor safety, helpful free resources, and videos.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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