Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Czech tramper Pavlina Pizova thanks rescuers after Routeburn Track tragedy

Pavlina Pizova with rescuers Department of Conservation Wakatipu operations manager Geoff Owen, left, and Queenstown police Senior Sergeant John Fookes at Queenstown Police Station yesterday.
Pavlina Pizova with rescuers Department of Conservation Wakatipu operations manager Geoff Owen, left, and Queenstown police Senior Sergeant John Fookes at Queenstown Police Station yesterday.

The Czech tramper who survived a month trapped in remote South Island bush after witnessing her partner fall to his death has penned heartfelt thank-you letters to her rescuers.

Pavlina Pizova was with partner Ondrej Petr, 27, when he slipped and died on the Routeburn Track on about July 27.

She spent three freezing nights sleeping in the open before traipsing through waist-deep snow to a Department of Conservation (DoC) warden's hut where she sheltered for almost a month.

Pizova, in her 30s, was finally rescued last Wednesday.

Yesterday, she made a substantial four-figure donation to Queenstown Police, Wakatipu Land Search and Rescue [SAR] and DoC, according to Vladka Kennett, Consul for the Czech Republic, who has been helping Pizova recuperate after her ordeal.

Pizova also gave her rescuers a moving letter to express her gratitude for their "enormous effort" to bring her to safety, and get Petr back to his family.

"Nothing can express how grateful I am that our tragedy happened in this area, with your expertise," she wrote to police and Land SAR.

"I'm overwhelmed by your empathy and gentle support. From the bottom of my heart, Pavlina Pizova."

To DoC she wrote that its "well-maintained infrastructure literally saved my life".

"Thank you and my apologies for any inconvenience caused."

A post-mortem on Petr's body was completed yesterday.

The police investigation has now been completed.

Pizova is in the process of booking flights home to the Czech Republic.

Kennett said they hope that Pizova will be reunited with her family back home by the
weekend.

It's understood that Petr's body will be repatriated this week.

Pizova is "doing really well", Kennett said, considering what she had gone through.

Police say extreme and severe conditions, including heavy snow and the risk of avalanche, along with her injuries - frostbite and possible hypothermia - prevented
Pizova from walking to safety.

She used ashes to make an "H" help sign in the snow and fashioned snow shoes with sticks during the weeks she spent trapped eating food left behind by DoC workers.

Although the Czech pair failed to tell people of their tramping plans, Pizova's tale of survival has been labelled "courageous" and "resilient". She has been praised by police and DoC for remaining at the hut, waiting to be rescued.

- NZ Herald

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