A woman in excruciating pain after slipping in steep bush terrain and breaking her lower leg was quickly located, winched to safety and flown to Whangārei Hospital thanks to Northland's rescue helicopter team.
The woman, in her 40s, was a volunteer with a team from the Bream Head Conservation Trust checking possum bait stations in the Bream Head Scenic Reserve, one of New Zealand's premier coastal forest reserves and a gateway to Whangārei Harbour.
One of the team members raised the alarm on Tuesday about 1.30pm by walking to a high point to get cellphone coverage and advising rescuers of their GPS coordinates.
The Northland Rescue Helicopter team of St John intensive care flight medic and winch operator Mark Going, St John flight medic Matt McAteer and pilot Susan Dinkelacker left the chopper's base on Western Hills Drive and eight minutes later they were hovering above the thick bush which was shielding the injured woman.
The woman was a few hundred metres off the main track above Peach Cove, on the northern side of the ridge.
Pilot Susan Dinkelacker said a person on the ground did an excellent job of guiding the aircraft into the best position near the injured woman so the medic could be lowered safely to the ground.
"There were storm fronts coming through at the time and the wind was swirling around," Dinkelacker said.
"These aircraft are incredibly powerful and have the right equipment to do the job. But it's a real team effort in these situations."
Winch operator Going said members of the woman's team had put her leg in a splint, but she was in pain and McAteer administered some pain relief before she was lifted out and flown to Whangārei Hospital.
The rescue by the helicopter was quick compared with a land-based operation that could have taken up to three hours to get the woman out of the bush and to an ambulance.
Bream Head Conservation Trust chairman Greg Innes, also Whangārei's deputy mayor, said volunteers plus the ranger had been checking bait traps in the area which they had previously checked so were familiar with the territory.
Unfortunately one of the volunteers had slipped, injuring herself.
"We rely on the team of volunteers but we also have in place procedures for them to follow. And it's reassuring when we have an incident like this that they worked. We feel for our injured volunteer."
He said WorkSafe had been advised.
The Northland Rescue Helicopter team has flown 514 missions as of June 29. On average they carry out about 20 winch operations a year.