Rescue Co-ordination Centre having busy Labour Weekend

  • 22/10/2017
The Remarkables in Queenstown (Getty, file)
The Remarkables in Queenstown. Photo credit: Getty, file

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre has had a busy Labour Weekend, organising three rescues involving helicopters.

On Saturday morning, a pair of Australian climbers who had endured a chilly night on a ledge more than 300m up in the Remarkables mountain range near Queenstown, were plucked off by LandSAR's Alpine Cliff Rescue team and Heliworks.

Chris Henshaw, senior search and rescue officer for RCCNZ in Wellington, said the Queenstown rescue was a difficult one in low cloud, with the environment one of rock and ice and snow.

"It was five hours in tricky conditions - one of the climbers was very experienced, but they were stuck on rocks just southwest of the Remarkables skifield," he said.

Mr Henshaw believed both climbers were in their 30s and had negotiated a climb called the Grand Traverse, before finding an abseil down the west side of the Remarkables too tough.

The LandSAR team was dropped nearby and then a long line from the helicopter, with a harness, was used to pick the men up.

Mr Henshaw said cellphone contact was initially made with the men, but this dropped out, but he was able to talk to one climber's wife in Australia throughout the rescue.

"They were not injured at all - just tired and cold."

In the second rescue, on Sunday morning, a hunter with lower leg injuries was airlifted out of Aorangi Forest Park in the Wairarapa by the Westpac Rescue helicopter and is in a stable condition in Wellington Hospital.

Meanwhile, near Murchison, a helicopter is trying to get to an injured mountainbiker on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Henshaw said the biker went over a 20m bluff and suffered lacerations and a head injury. Due to low cloud, his companions are trying to get him to a Department of Conservation hut to be picked up.

In all three instances, personal locator beacons made life easier for RCCNZ, Mr Henshaw said.