Cavers practising a search- and-rescue exercise near Nelson had to deal with a real-life situation when a participant injured his leg while training.

About 70 cavers and staff were taking part in a Deep Cave Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) on Takaka Hill near Motueka when one caver injured his leg while helping lift a stretcher with a make-believe patient at 1.46am today.

He was assisted to the cave's entrance by other members of the cave rescue team and was flown to Nelson Hospital by the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter at 7am.

The exercise began yesterday and is scheduled to run until tomorrow.


This year the team was presented with a scenario involving two cavers who had not returned from an expedition in the Green Link and Swiss Maid cave system.

Search teams had to locate the missing party in the cave, deal with any medical issues and then safely extract them to the surface.

The cavers had to live and camp in the cave for the duration of the exercise.