A mother and three children lost on Mt Pirongia overnight were rescued by 12 police and Hamilton search and rescue volunteers early this morning.

The 36-year-old mother and her children, aged 15, 10 and 7 were reported missing about 8.50pm.

They had headed from the western side of the Waikato mountain late yesterday afternoon towards Pahautea hut, near the summit, but underestimated the time it would take and called for assistance after it became dark and they got lost, police said.

They had inadequate clothing and equipment for the trek and hadn't prepared for the forecast bad weather.

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The family was found on the track about 3.10am and are now safely at the bottom of the mountain.

They are now being assessed by St John Ambulance staff.
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"They were well, other than being cold and tired." Search teams walked the family out, police said.

"We urge [trampers] to plan their bush trips, identify the environment they are entering, ascertain weather forecasts and mitigate risks by taking appropriate clothing and equipment with them."