Alone, injured, suffering from hypothermia, a Tauranga man fearing he would die on Mount Ruapehu penned a goodbye note to his friends and family.

Scott, 21, who did not want his name used, hiked towards the summit of the mountain on Saturday, while his friends went snowboarding.

Without an ice axe or crampons, Scott slipped on an icy slope and slid towards a massive drop before grabbing hold of some snow and saving himself.

Read more: Injured tramper slid to the edge of a death-plunge off the side of Ruapehu


The frightening fall dislocated his knee and sprained his ankle. He also lost his cellphone and a bottle of water.

Scott was rescued after spending a whole night in freezing conditions on Ruapehu. Photo / Supplied
Scott was rescued after spending a whole night in freezing conditions on Ruapehu. Photo / Supplied

Scott reset his knee, inched himself up the steep slope and dug himself a snow hole to shelter from the freezing wind.

"I went through some pretty heavy thoughts ... I didn't think I was going to make it."

He spent hours curled up in the hole, listening to the searchers looking for him "but it went quiet about 4am".

Hypothermia began to set in. Scott said he was talking to himself but his speech was slurred and his brain "scrambled".

He had no feeling below his knees or elbows, and after removing his gloves to get something out of his backpack, he couldn't get them back on as his fingers had curled into immovable fists.

Scott was also dehydrated. He was so sure he was not going to make it, he wrote a note and left it in his backpack for family and friends to find.

But when morning broke the Scott could hear the search resume and knew he would need to leave the snow hole to be seen.

"I was trying to wave out to them, but they couldn't see me and I got a bit fed up and I was thinking about another night on the mountain, and I couldn't handle that."

Scott climbed clear of the ridge he was under and could see the Tukino ski lifts in the distance. As he limped his way there, a ground search team found him.


"I heard someone yell out 'have you spent the night out here?' And I just collapsed. The relief when they found me was insane."

Scott was flown to Taupo Hospital where he was reunited with his father Peter, also from Tauranga, and other family.

Peter left for the mountain fearing "the worst-case scenario" and was overcome with emotion when told rescuers had found his son alive.

"The relief was outrageous," Peter said.

"It was very, very emotional."

Peter said the incident had made him realise how lucky he and his son were, especially to live in New Zealand with such an extensive network of people who work or volunteer to help search for a missing person.

Scott's friends raised the alarm at 5pm when he failed to return from the hike, sparking a search by the Air Force, Land Search and Rescue, Ruapehu Alpine Rescue, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts, Tukino Skifield, Greenlea Rescue Helicopter and the police.

"I am just so thankful," Peter said.