Police have thanked contributors to a Givealittle page for the part they played in the rescue of a husband and wife lost in the Kaimai Range.
Waikato Police District Search and Rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Vince Ranger said during Sunday's search Police relied heavily on the support of civilian volunteers from Land-SAR.
"Though without a compass the pair, both aged in their forties, did have a cell-phone and did the right thing when they realised they were lost by ringing police early on and staying put.
"Part of the police's Search and Rescue response was to call on civilian volunteers from Land-SAR which included the deployment of specialist SAR dog Gemma and her handler, Graeme Hill, and it was this team, alongside visual tracker Matt Hassard who located the lost hunters."
Mr Ranger said the successful conclusion of the search was all the more special considering Sunday's mission was the first Gemma had taken part in since undergoing significant surgery.
"Last year Gemma suffered a serious injury to her hind legs and required surgery and seven months rehabilitation including physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. While used by Land-SAR to support Police operations Gemma is not a Police dog so Land-SAR took to a 'Give a Little' page to help raise the $7800 needed to treat her.
"Fortunately donations received from people across the Waikato and throughout the country raised $7500. Those funds and complimentary treatment following her surgery provided to Land-SAR by Hamilton company; 'Hydropaws' meant Gemma and her handler were able to contribute to the success of the operation."
Mr Ranger said Sunday's rescue completed the circle for Gemma of being trained, injured, operated on and then going through rehabilitation and recertification.
"Police believe the wider Waikato community are fortunate to have the skills and dedication of Gemma and her handler and it's thanks to those people who gave a little who enabled them to give a lot."