French tourist lost in Fiordland lucky to be alive after 12-hour rescue mission

A 20-year-old French tramper lost in Fiordland was found by searchers around 1.30am today, and finally winched to safety by a Southern Lakes helicopter around 8.30am. Photo / File
A 20-year-old French tramper lost in Fiordland was found by searchers around 1.30am today, and finally winched to safety by a Southern Lakes helicopter around 8.30am. Photo / File

A 20-year-old French tramper lost in Fiordland has been found safe and well after a search-and-rescue mission of more than 12 hours.

The tourist went into the track off Milford Rd for a day walk about 2pm yesterday. Friends raised the alarm about 8.15pm after he failed to return.

Te Anau police initiated the search, sending four LandSAR volunteers into the steep, difficult terrain.

The search party spotted the man stuck at the bottom of a very steep ravine around 1.30am today, but were unable to physically reach him, officer in charge Sergeant Tod Hollebon said.

They called out to him and shone lights in his direction.

After trying to reach him several of the searchers decided the vertical bluffs were too dangerous to cross in the darkness and waited for daylight and called in a helicopter to help.

Around 8.30am a Southern Lakes helicopter winched the man to safety using a long line and a scoop net.

Hollebon said the team of rescuers were experienced and did a great job. Everyone was choppered to safety.

"The terrain was incredibly steep where the lost walker had gone down, and it is quite remarkable he got into the position he was in without falling and seriously injuring himself, or worse."

The tourist appeared to be very relieved to be rescued and was treated by medical staff for a head knock and is now recovering from the ordeal.

Hollebon said the mission was a timely reminder for people to take extra care when venturing into the outdoors.

"It's important to ensure that you are well prepared with warm clothing, food, and a communications device such as an Epirb (personal locator beacon), as cellphone coverage can become unreliable."

- NZ Herald

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