The parents of a girl trapped for several hours on a dangerous cliff face in thick Bay of Plenty bush have shared their relief at finally getting her home safely after a daring rope rescue.
Steve and his 17-year-old daughter headed out just before lunch on Saturday to work on a water pump in the area when the girl left to take photos of the Omanawa waterfall in the Kaimai Range.
"It was just after 12 when I realised she wasn't where she should have been and about 3.20pm I rang a friend who I knew was part of Land Search and Rescue and asked for advice on what to do," Steve said.
Police and search and rescue volunteers arrived shortly later to help Steve find his daughter, who in that time had phoned her mother to say she was lost.
The couple did not panic, he said. Steve had deerstalking experience and his father was part of the Rotorua Land Search and Rescue unit, while Maree grew up in the area and knew the bush well.
Their daughter, who did not want to be named, had completed a five-week outdoor education course.
After hours scouring the bush from below, others searched from above, Steve managed to establish voice contact with his daughter.
"She was further down the river than I expected. We managed to get as close as we could when rescuers turned up," Steve said.
"We started working our way around to where we thought she was, but there were just so many bluffs and slips. She was calling out and she was literally within 100m of the rescue team up top."
We were literally on a three foot ledge, we didn't have a lot of room. It was 20m straight up and about 60 degrees or steeper below us.
SHARE THIS QUOTE:
As Steve communicated with his daughter from below, a ropes team set up from above to attempt to pull her out. When he finally reached her about 6pm, there was a mixture of relief and caution.
"We were literally on a three-foot ledge, we didn't have a lot of room. It was 20m straight up and about 60 degrees or steeper below us."
Steve gave her a Moro chocolate bar and bottle of water before she was strapped into a harness and winched out about 6.20pm.
Fading light and treacherous terrain prompted rescuers to also be winched out of the bush instead of attempting to trek back. The last person arrived to safety at 10.20pm.
Today, Steve joked "I'm a bit sore now" but was proud of his girl who he said kept a cool head despite the dangers. He was also especially grateful to the 15-strong team of rescuers.
"She did really well to do what she did," he said.
Mum Maree said she had been confident her daughter and husband would be fine.
"I just had the faith. We decided to make the call to the police and Search and Rescue team about 3.20pm ... because it was getting on to the end of the day and we didn't want to ring last-minute saying, 'hey, we've got a problem'," Maree said.
"The only time I was concerned was when she was up on the cliff area, with the rain and everything you could slip easily. But apart from that I was pretty calm."
Maree said being able to establish voice contact with her helped ease worries.
"She had no idea where she was, telling us to 'hurry up, I'm cold'. But she coped really well. She did all right."