Rescuers’ New Year – hiking a stream in a ravine


Four Queenstown rescue experts won’t forget how they saw in the New Year.

When midnight struck, veteran Alpine Cliff Rescue Team member Chris Prudden, colleague Jono Gillan and local police Abby Pagel and Dan Andrew were searching for two Chinese women who’d got lost after walking the Sawpit Gully Track behind Arrowtown.

Prudden, who’d just been stood down from another job, says he and Gillan were sitting down for a beer on the Queenstown Bay waterfront when they got the call about 9pm.

By midnight they were in a ravine, traipsing up a stream.

“I remember we stopped and had a chat with the two police and said, ‘oh well, this is our New Year’s Eve, there you go’.

“I was just thinking, it would be good to be where I was, watching fireworks.”

After about two hours, they found the women on a ledge above a waterfall, and were able to rope them down to safety.

Prudden says the women had gone up to take photos because they were carrying a small drone and a pack with photographic gear.

“They were over the moon. They’d thought they were there for the whole night - they just about were.”

Prudden says he got home about 3am.