A heartfelt thank-you came in the form of bacon and egg pie and hugs for the Katikati volunteer firefighters who tramped for nearly an hour to rescue an elderly tramper.
Tauranga resident Jean Crabtree, 85, became crippled by cramps during a day tramp in the Woodland Rd area, near Katikati, on Thursday.
Eight volunteer firefighters raced through the bush for almost an hour to carry her to safety.
"They were so caring, the terrain was so difficult, the sweat was just pouring off them. Not only had they just raced up the mountain side for an hour but then they had to go back down again on a narrow track," she said.
"It was just amazing what they did."
The group Mrs Crabtree was with had walked about an hour-and-a-half into the bush when she was struck by cramps so violent she could not move.
The firefighters reached her in about 50 minutes, strapped her to a stretcher and carried her through the bush for 75 minutes before the reached a clearing where the TECT Trustpower Rescue Helicopter was able to winch her out.
"I don't think we praise those firefighters enough. They do a wonderful job," she said.
"I just feel that those boys, and the Tauranga ones and firemen in general, just need a pat on the back. They were just brilliant absolutely brilliant."
The grateful patient contacted the Bay of Plenty Times to sing the praises of the firefighters and jumped at the chance to thank them in person yesterday.
While the firefighters fondly greeted her at the Katikati Fire Station, humbly accepting her praise and the homemade pies, it was the parting hugs that surprised them the most.