Rescued Czech wants to give back


The Czech tourist who watched her partner fall to his death on the Routeburn Track plans to donate money to the New Zealand agencies that saved her life.

Pavlina Pizova, who survived a harrowing month in a remote cabin, snowed in and alone after watching her partner Ondrej Petr (27) take his last breath, would like to give back to those who helped her to safety.

She was found by rescuers at the isolated warden’s hut at Lake MacKenzie last Thursday.

While she recovers from hypothermia and frostbite, Pizova is resting at the Glenorchy home of Vladka Kennett, Consul for the Czech Republic.

Kennett: “At the moment she can’t do much more – she’s just trying to recuperate and get everything back to normal, which is not easy, but she’s doing well.”

Kennett said Pizova’s intention was to give something back to those who helped rescue her and recover Petr’s body.

“She has decided to make a donation back to Land SAR and the Department of Conservation as a thank you.”

Land SAR is a charity, and volunteers in 2014 and 2015 donated nearly 20,000 hours of their own time to rescue operations and spent more than 76,000 hours training.

In an emotional statement to the public last week, Pizova thanked her rescuers.

Kennett said Pizova wanted to return home to her family as soon as possible.

This is not the first time the woman, in her 30s, has been touched by tragedy in the mountains.

“In a group of our friends there were several people who died in mountains or were seriously injured and they were really experienced mountaineers,” Pizova’s friend told Czech News Centre.

“We all knew that life is fragile but we [still] go to mountains.”

Pizova and Petr, both from tiny Czech towns, started their journey despite being warned off by Department of Conservation staff, having no tent or locator beacon and telling no one of their plans.

After just one night on the track in freezing conditions including falling snow, strong winds and heavy fog, they slipped about 7m down a steep slope.

Petr fell further and became pinned between rocks and vegetation. Pizova tried but failed to reach him, and heard him take his last breath.

Pizova’s tale of survival has been labelled “courageous” and “resilient”, and she was praised by police and DOC for remaining at the hut, waiting to be rescued.

“In a group of our friends there were several people who died in mountains or were seriously injured and they were really experienced mountaineers.

Her friend, who asked not to be named, told Czech News Centre the couple bonded over their shared love for the outdoors.

“She and Ondrej like hiking and mountaineering very much. I think she needed to be with someone active … “

”She was able to hike 70km tracks just alone. She is handy, good at technical issues. When she went for a bike she was able to repair it on her own.”

The friend knew Pizova had planned to walk the Routeburn Track, but didn’t find it odd she hadn’t heard from her in a month as they didn’t speak regularly.

Another friend, who gave her name only as Martina, told Czech News Centre Pizova had been very active on Facebook, uploading many pictures since she had been in New Zealand.

Pizova’s last post was on July 14. Martina knew she hadn’t been in contact with any friends for a month.

Petr’s body was recovered by Search and Rescue on Friday.

His death had been referred to the coroner.

NZ Herald