Reminder to carry personal locator beacons after 1000 rescues last year

More than 1000 people needed to be rescued from remote areas last year, and most were luckily saved thanks to personal locator beacons.

Maritime New Zealand, which operates the Rescue Co-ordination Centre that monitors for beacon activations, says it's an important reminder for those heading outdoors to carry one.

The Remutaka Forest Park is 22,000 hectares of deep, dense, bush. It's where tramper David Robbins got lost for more than 14 hours.

"I was completely lost in the bush, it was getting pretty cold and I ran out of food," he said.

On November 6, Robbins set out on a tramp. But he fell off the trail he was meaning to follow and ended up walking for hours in the wrong direction.

"I felt really desperate to finish the track and just get out."

As time went by, Robbins became increasingly disoriented but tried to persevere.

"Once it got dark, and more and more cold, I was getting desperate," he said.

Hours later and huddled up next to a river bed, Robbins realised he was in serious trouble. It was only thanks to his personal locator beacon, which he was trying to avoid using, that he survived.

Just after midnight, Robbins activated the beacon and was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter.

"I'm pretty sure it saved my life," he said. "I carried it partly because my mum said to take it."

There've been around 1100 rescue incidents last year, 80 percent of those are thanks to personal locator beacons.

Maritme NZ's Rescue Centre is responsible for each beacon call-out and has beefed up its staffing levels for the summer.

"We definitely see an increase in search and rescue activity during the summer season," said Maritime NZ's Michael Clulow.

The rescue agency is urging people heading into remote areas to take a beacon.

"Beacons are a good way of people in distress letting us know," said Clulow.

Because it could just save your life, as it did for Robbins.