A Department of Conservation (DoC) dog has miraculously survived 36 hours, muzzled in the cold subantarctic.
Flint, a small Jack Russell/Fox Terrier cross travelling with a crew on Campbell Island ran away on Wednesday, after it was spooked by an elephant seal.
After using thermal imaging technology to extensively search for Flint, the crew - although heartbroken by the loss of their furry companion - had no choice but to leave the island due to bad weather and mechanical problems.
"While it was heartbreaking for all involved, the safety of all those aboard... needed to be the first priority," said deputy director-general Mike Slater.
But soon another rescue effort was made from mainland New Zealand to find DoC's lost comrade.
"Due to the time-sensitive nature of this rescue with Flint wearing a muzzle and therefore unable to feed himself, we were working against the clock," said Slater.
A helicopter equipped to fly the 660km journey across the Southern Ocean was deployed from Heli Otago. The aircraft departed Taieri near Dunedin at daybreak and reached the island at 11am.
Shortly after arrival the crew located Flint, who had made his way across the island and was waiting at Beeman base.
"As far as we are concerned Flint is a team member and so we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to try and find him and bring him home," said Slater.
Conservation dogs play a vital role in DoC's efforts to keep New Zealand islands pest-free.