Happy endings

Two kayakers who were reported missing from Spirits Bay on Tuesday night were found safe and well, enjoying a spot of camping at Te Whau Point, North Cape, blithely unaware they were being searched for by land, sea and air.

Campers saw the Ngunguru couple, both in their 50s, kayaking away from the beach at Kapowairua/Spirits Bay about 8.30am, and alerted the camp hosts, who in turn contacted the police, when they had not returned by 9pm. Department of Conservation staff, Search and Rescue, a Coastguard aircrew and locals subsequently launched a search.

The crew of a spotter plane found the pair at Te Whau Point at 9.30 on Wednesday morning.

Whangarei SAR Squad leader Sergeant Neil Pennington said the exercise was a time-consuming reminder of the need to make sure people shared their intentions with others when carrying out "these types of activities." A conversation with other campers, or the camp hosts, would have negated the need for the search and rescue operation.

The searchers had also been frustrated by not knowing where the kayakers had paddled to.

"We didn't know which direction they had gone in, so we were faced with a massive search area," Sergeant Pennington said.

"That's another key reason why it's really important to let people know where you are going and what time you will be back. That way, if you get into trouble, the likelihood of you being found quickly is much greater, as the search area can be more accurately pin-pointed."

Sergeant Pennington was grateful for DOC's support, and also thanked the locals that helped.

"It was excellent to have people with local networks and knowledge of the area involved; it made the search much easier," he said.

"Although it's frustrating to have to launch an operation unnecessarily, we are all delighted that the people are safe and sound."

Meanwhile a 57-year-old Australian man, his wife and two young children survived a scare on the walking track from the top of the Herekino Gorge to Pukepoto on Wednesday. A police spokesman said the track had become overgrown and difficult to follow in places, and the family found themselves on a pig/stock track that finally petered out.

They were found, largely thanks to local knowledge, just before dark after a two-hour search and were none the worse for their experience.

- Northland Age

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