Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

12yo boy breaks leg on Milford Track after piggyback ride

The boy broke his leg after slipping on wet grass while walking to the sleeping quarters at Dumpling Hut on the Milford Track. Photo/Graham Dainty/DOC
The boy broke his leg after slipping on wet grass while walking to the sleeping quarters at Dumpling Hut on the Milford Track. Photo/Graham Dainty/DOC

A Waikato father is regretting his decision to give his son a piggyback after he slipped on wet grass and the child ended up breaking his leg in a remote national park.

Ross Tetley-Jones said the final stages of a family tramp on the Milford Track in Fiordland went spectacularly wrong yesterday when a dash between the shared kitchen and sleeping quarters ended in a late night rescue helicopter mission to Dumpling Hut.

With just a day left before finishing one of the South Island's popular Great Walks, Mr Tetley-Jones was carrying 12-year-old son Jacob on his back to save his socks getting wet after it began raining.

Unfortunately Mr Tetley-Jones slipped taking the quickest route to the bunk hut.

"He only had socks on and I said, 'don't worry, I'll give you a piggy back'.

"I only had to carry him 20m to get to bed.

"It was raining and slippery and I just went off the path to avoid getting wet. It was just one of those things."

He was not wearing shoes and lost his footing in the darkness.

Today, from Southland's Kew Hospital, Mr Tetley-Jones praised the efforts of the hut warden and helicopter crew who came to the aid of his family.

He said wife Diane and the remaining three children planned to walk out of the bush, helped by other experienced trampers walking the route.

His son was expected to have a cast put on his leg this afternoon.

With family plans to return to their home in Otorohanga in disarray, Mr Tetley-Jones said both his pride and heart had taken a hammering.

The four day Milford Track hike had been something of a family challenge that only hours before the accident had seen them on a high after successfully scaling the tough Mackinnon Pass.

"I feel like I've ruined our holiday - well the final part at least," he said.
Despite the injury his son was already talking about the possibility of taking a flight into Dumpling Hut once his leg had healed and walking out just to say he had completed the walk.

But Mr Tetley-Jones said one thing was for sure on any return trip south. " I certainly won't be giving him a piggyback from the kitchen to the bunk room ever again."

- NZ Herald

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