A man suffering a medical emergency was airlifted off the Paekakariki Escarpment Track, north of Wellington, at about 7.30pm on Waitangi Day.

The track is a 10km steep walkway between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay and can be walked in either direction.

Nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven, signs state the track takes three to four hours however for many people the walk can be done in two hours.

Life Flight responded in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter with a Wellington Free Ambulance intensive care paramedic on board.


A man in his 30s visiting from overseas had been hiking along the track and became unwell.

His companions assisted him and called for emergency rescue.

The medic was winched 15 metres down to the track where the patient was treated and stabilised, then winched back up to the helicopter and transported to Wellington Hospital for treatment.

The Life Flight Trust is a charity providing air rescue and air ambulance services.

It operates the Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter and a nationwide air ambulance service.

It relies on support from the public and sponsorship from partners such as Westpac to provide these services.