Tukituki MP and associate Minister of Transport Craig Foss has honoured members of the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter team for a daring rescue at Tongariro National Park.
Mr Foss presented the NZSAR Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity in recognition of their feat.
On June 18 last year the rescue helicopter was called to help in the search and recovery of four missing hikers in the Tongariro National Park.
The rescue, carried out in fading light and freezing conditions, was "the ultimate example of teamwork and co-ordination".
The hikers, who had been caught out by the setting sun and the cold conditions, were located on the western slopes of Mt Ngauruhoe.
The steep mountain slopes turned into a solid sheet of ice, so slick and hard that all four experienced and well- equipped hikers fell. They were all separated and perched on the icy slopes between about 6500 and 7000ft in altitude, receiving injuries ranging from cuts and bruises from the razor sharp ice, to fractured bones and the onset of hypothermia.
The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter flew in two RARO teams on to the side of the mountain.
The RARO team performed the difficult and extremely dangerous task of trekking to and stabilising the injured parties, before anchoring themselves to the steep slope to allow for the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter to return and pluck the injured from the icy slopes one by one.
Base manager and pilot Nat Every said this was a "well-run, highly organised rescue, involving LANDSAR Turangi, NZ Police SAR, Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation, St John Ambulance Taupo and the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter and resulted in the safe recovery of each of the four hikers."
Representatives from Greenlea attended the award ceremony, including managing director, Tony Eagan.
"Greenlea is privileged to work with the Philips Search & Rescue Trust in supporting the Taupo-based rescue helicopter. We congratulate the men who participated in this heroic rescue, and we thank all of those who generously provide their time and service to provide these often life-saving missions," he said.
The Greenlea Helicopter is one of six helicopters operated by Philips Search and Rescue Trust, New Zealand's largest air rescue organisation.