Police urge campers, trampers to carry distress beacon


Police and the Mountain Safety Council are asking people to be prepared when heading outdoors this summer.

The two organisations are advising campers and trampers to take a distress beacon and stick to the Covid-19 traffic light rules.

A registered distress beacon can summon help to a location in a life-threatening situation. They can be bought or rented and should be registered at beacons.org.nz.

People are urged to make sure they have the skills for the activity, plan for the weather, and share their plans with others.

Police search and rescue national coordinator Senior Sergeant Pete Theobald said there were a few things to take seriously when planning a tramping or camping trip.

"Tell someone where you are going and let them know when to raise the alarm if you don't return.

"If you get into trouble, can you call for help? Who knows where you are? Do you have the right outdoors clothing, enough food and equipment to stay safe until help arrives? Because of Covid, there's even more to consider," he said.

It is predicting high numbers and many new users will hit the outdoors, with international travel still off the cards.

Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said it was good practice to learn about the destination and to prepare "using some of our free online resources or the new www.planmywalk.nz app".

The Plan My Walk app supports the planning of a day walk, overnight or multi-day tramp.

It is complete with track alerts, MetService weather, gear lists, personalised plan and profile section.

"As we see this surge in interest, we are encouraging those users to think about their personal safety and take a few simple steps to ensuring they have a great, safe experience, and make it home," Daisley said.

The Land Safety Code provides five key steps for enjoying the outdoors, safely:

  • Choose the right trip for you: It pays to learn about the route and make sure you have the skills for it.
  • Understand the weather: It can change fast.
  • Check the forecast and change your plans if needed.
  • Pack warm clothes and extra food: Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected extra night out.
  • Share your plans and take ways to get help: Telling a trusted person your trip details and taking a distress beacon can save your life.
  • Take care of yourself and each other: Eat, drink, rest, and stick with your group and make decisions together.

The impact of Covid-19 traffic light settings:

  • Provided you follow public health guidelines, most outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, tramping and whitebaiting can be undertaken at both Red and Orange traffic light settings.
  • Keep up to date on the traffic light settings and requirements at United against Covid-19
  • Whether you are going into remote backcountry, or sticking to a local track, please check the information for your region as part of your planning.
  • You can get alerts in the Plan My Walk app.
  • Always pack a mask and hand sanitiser with you, scan in wherever possible, and be courteous of others, particularly in huts/where you might interact with others.