Tramper injured on Te Araroa Trail carried four hours on stretcher to safety

By Imran Ali -
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The injured tramper on the Te Araroa Trail is carried down a creek on Tuesday evening. It took rescuers four hours to bring him to a waiting ambulance.
The injured tramper on the Te Araroa Trail is carried down a creek on Tuesday evening. It took rescuers four hours to bring him to a waiting ambulance.

It took Northland rescue teams four hours in darkness to stretcher an injured foreign tramper off a rugged section of the Te Araroa Trail.

The man, a physician in his 60s from England, planned to walk the 3000-kilometre track and started in Cape Reinga two weeks ago.

He was the second British tourist walking the Te Araroa Trail in Northland to spark a rescue operation in less than three weeks.

Police search and rescue co-ordinator, Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe, said the tramper slipped on Tuesday afternoon while walking down a step section of the track, about two hours in from Kaiikanui Rd, off Pigs Head Rd, 30km north of Whangarei.

He suffered a sprained ankle and rang ambulance just before 4pm.

Mr Metcalfe said a Northland police and land search team began scouring the track from Kaiikanui Rd while land search and rescue volunteers set off from Halvorson Rd, Whananaki.

The injured tramper communicated with emergency services through text messages only. He managed to walk to the top of a mountain where the search teams found him at 8.30pm.

His injured ankle was strapped and he was put on a stretcher. It took rescuers two hours to carry him down a slippery track and another two hours of cross-country navigation to reach Halvorson Rd where an ambulance was waiting.

He was taken to the Whangarei Hospital.

"The track was very rough and brutal. It had a lot of rain and was all clay. It was one of the toughest rescues I've done that I can remember but it was a good effort by everyone," Mr Metcalfe said.

The injury would delay the tramper's plan of completing the trail by up to four weeks, he said.

The man had the right gear but could not move much because of his injuries.

On October 28, a man in his 50s from England, became lost and did not have enough water for the tramp while walking part of the Te Araroa Trail that passes through the Mangamuka Forest, just south of Kaitaia.

About 30 police and Far North search and rescue volunteers and helicopter support scoured a bush track but he walked out two days later severely dehydrated but uninjured.

Mr Metcalfe said with two incidents involving trampers on the Te Araroa Trail, people should be fully kitted out with essential items such as food, water, a locator beacon, a cellphone, and a GPS.

"Tracks in New Zealand are not like walking tracks overseas so the message is quite clear. Those walking on them should come prepared.

"There will just be a lot more people on the tracks so we'd expect more callouts."

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