A French woman is lucky to be alive after she narrowly avoided sliding down a cliff in icy conditions on the Central Plateau yesterday.
The woman, a 27-year-old French national in the country on a working visa, was hiking alone when she slid 15 metres off a ridge near the summit of Mt Tongariro about midday.
Emergency services were alerted by other hikers who heard the woman's terrified screams.
Greenlea Rescue Helicopter was called and she was flown back to flatter ground.
"I owe my life to the people who rescued me, I don't know who they are but I really want to thank them," the woman said.
The woman did not want to be identified as she did not want to worry her parents, who are back in France.
She said she remembered screaming as she slid down the cliff but her mind was "blank".
"When I finally stopped, my crampons were broken and I landed in a position where I couldn't stand or sit," she said.
She was stuck in that position for over an hour and thought the rescuers had forgotten about her, she said.
"When I heard the sound of my helicopters I was just so relieved, but I was also worried for the rescuers because the conditions today was really icy."
Base manager and pilot Nat Every said a part of the slope where the woman was was shaded by the sun and she had stepped a little too far into the area where conditions were icy.
While she hadn't suffered any injuries, she was "absolutely terrified" by the time the rescue helicopter arrived at the scene.
"She was too scared to move.
"If she had slipped again, there was a good chance she wouldn't have survived. Below her was a big rocky area."
While the woman had crampons - metal spikes- attached to her boots, they had ripped off when she was sliding down, he said.
Taupo police Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said the woman, working at Mt Ruapehu, was an inexperienced hiker.
Other hikers around the woman had heard her screams for help and called emergency services. Her crampons were attached to flexible-soled boots which were insufficient for the icy conditions and she also didn't take an ice axe.
"If you don't prepare for the conditions, it's going to get ugly."
He urged hikers to plan trips, know the weather conditions and take sufficient supplies.
The woman had not planned to hike alone, but said others who were supposed to go along did not turn up.
"I decided to go ahead because this was a track that I had done before, and I thought I knew it," she said.
In another rescue on the Central Plateau, a 19-year-old New Zealander tumbled about 30 metres down Mt Ngauruhoe yesterday evening - and managed to walk off the mountain.
The Greenlea Rescue Helicopter were called at 6pm after the man suffered spinal injuries due to his fall.
Every said the man was walking along a track with a friend when he fell.
"It was icy when he he fell and he went for a big skate.
"It's pretty steep, you gather speed very quickly.
"But he managed to walk off the mountain. Pretty impressive."
His friend had walked three hours to Mangatepopo car park to call for help.
When the rescuers found the injured man, he was cold and suffering borderline hypothermia, Every said.
"It was dark and cold and he was thinking, 'If I don't get off the mountain and someone doesn't get me, I'll die'."
He was taken to Waikato Hospital.
For more articles from this region, go to Rotorua Daily Post