Search and rescue teams had no time for rest over the holiday weekend as a number of trampers in trouble triggered distress beacons - including a mother and two sons forced to spend a night out in the open.

Rescuers said fortunately the rescued people had safety beacons, which had not just saved time, but likely lives.

Rescue Coordination Centre search and rescue mission coordinator Tracy Brickles said a beacon was a life-saving piece of equipment that everyone should bring.

"A beacon should be a standard piece of equipment if you are going off the beaten track regularly, and hiring a beacon can be done relatively cheaply by those venturing out less frequently."


On Friday evening a mother activated her distress beacon after her two sons, 10 and 12, became exhausted in cold wet conditions in the Tararuas.

The trio had been on the walk from Kaitoke to Alpha Hut track and were forced to spend their night on the track as neither the Westpac Rescue Helicopter nor a police search and rescue team could get to them because of the weather.

They were rescued at 8am on Saturday.

A woman walking with her husband on the Mt Aurum basin track from Skippers, near Queenstown, then broke her leg on Saturday evening.

The couple activated a hired distress beacon, and were rescued by Heli Works near Dynamo Hut.

And on Sunday, three Australians on a skiing tour in the Southern Alps messaged a contact in Australia, via a spot-tracking beacon asking for rescue.

As light began to fail, the group had become disorientated in the low cloud. They were found by the Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Cliff Rescue Team and flown to Chancellor hut, from where they planned to continue their tour.

And yesterday, three Wellington trampers got lost 3.5km west of Mt Hector in the Tararuas.

Tired and cold, they were flown to safety last evening, an hour after activating their beacon.

This morning, a farm worker was rescued after he activated his distress beacon when he fell from a horse and dislocated his shoulder.

Bickles said it was also important to register beacons as it could save time and prevent rescue crews from going out to false alarms.