Lucky tourist plucked from steep Fiordland terrain

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A French tourist found safe in Fiordland after a search and rescue operation of more than 12 hours is lucky to have avoided serious injury or worse, police say.

Sergeant Tod Hollebon, of Te Anau, says the 20-year-old man went on to a track off the Milford Rd about 2pm on Saturday, intending a day walk.

After getting lost, he ended up in dangerous and steep terrain, and took a knock to the head.

“The terrain was incredibly steep where the lost walker had gone down, and it is quite remarkable he got into the position he was in without falling and seriously injuring himself, or worse,” Hollebon says.

He was reported overdue by friends around 8.15pm.

Te Anau Police initiated a search and a team of four LandSAR volunteers were sent into the area.

The area they were searching is steep and difficult terrain. The man was located about 1.30am yesterday but the searchers could not reach him.

They made contact with voice and light but decided, owing to darkness and the steep terrain, to wait for daylight and a helicopter to assist.

Around 8.30am yesterday, a Southern Lakes helicopter crew used gear to lift the man from the bottom of a ravine in the Falls Creek area.

He appeared very relieved to be rescued.

The man was given a checkup and is now recovering.

The incident serves as a good time to remind people to take extra care when venturing into the outdoors, Hollebon says.

“It’s important to ensure that you are well prepared with warm clothing, food, and a communications device such as an Epirb [personal locator beacon], as cellphone coverage can become unreliable.”

Otago Daily Times