Thanks to some sharp eyes in the sky, a young man was plucked to safety after spending three nights out in the open and rain in the Richmond Ranges.
Joseph, a 30-year-old local man, was last seen at Red Hills Hut in the Richmond Ranges on the 31st of October and was due out at Lake Chalice on Wednesday.
When he didn’t come out, the alarm was raised on Thursday by his next of kin.
A search operation was started at first light today by Police and LandSAR volunteers.
Three Police search and rescue constables and six Land Search and Rescue volunteers, as well a private helicopter, were tasked to search the alpine route from Red Hills area to Lake Chalice.
An eagle-eyed helicopter staff member spotted him six kilometres from his intended exit route in the Motueka River area – an area that is heavily gorged and bluffed.
Cold and soaked, Joseph was badly blistered with cut hands from attempting to navigate his way out, but mostly uninjured and extremely lucky.
The message here is to be prepared and don’t rely on digital technology and screenshots of maps to guide you out. Take a physical map with you and familiarise yourself with the area you are tramping.
We’d like to thank all the volunteers who helped in this search effort and trampers who provided information on his whereabouts.
Plan your trip: Tell someone where you are going, and let them know when to raise the alarm if you don’t return.
Beware of the weather: Our weather is very unpredictable and can deteriorate quickly. Check the forecast and expect weather changes. Don’t go out in poor weather. Read and understand the long-range forecast, don’t attempt to cross flooded rivers, and have a contingency plan in the event of bad weather.
Know your limits: Don’t push your physical limits and experience.
Take the right supplies and equipment: Make sure you have the right clothing for the conditions, and emergency rations for the worst case scenario. Take appropriate means of communication and location devices such as a personal locator beacon.
Think: If you get into trouble, can you call for help? Who knows where you are? Do you have the clothing, food and equipment to stay safe until help arrives?