Australian survives 30-hour ordeal in freezing conditions near Ben Lomond summit


An Australian tourist has been reunited with his mother after spending two nights lost in freezing conditions on a mountain near Queenstown.

Robert Galdamez told Newshub he thought he was going to die after taking a wrong turn on a popular track.

"All I could think about was the worst. I really did think at one stage I wasn't going to make it," Mr Galdamez said.

Mr Galdamez's mother flew to join him in Queenstown's Lakes District Hospital on Thursday, where he was being treated for hypothermia.

Just 12 hours earlier, the 25-year-old Australian was huddling under a rock in the snow, after his six-hour hike turned into a 30-hour ordeal after he took a wrong turn near the summit of Ben Lomond.

"It was very cold, once it started snowing I started to get very worried. I had no water, I had no food," he said.

Mr Galdamez texted a friend, and he was found in the early hours of Thursday morning after a search was launched, consisting of a helicopter, dogs and 20 searchers.

"As soon as I saw the rescue dog and the two police officers looking out for me, that's when I knew I was safe."

His mother rushed over from Australia on the first available flight.

"I just pray and pray, please, for my boy to live, really, really, thank you to the police, and all the teamwork, thank you everyone to take care of him," she said.

Mr Galdamez says he's learnt a valuable lesson.

"Don't do it alone, you just don't know what's going to happen. Always travel with a friend."

Mr Galdamez will return home with his mother on the weekend.