Shelley Crooks has returned home and taken her first steps on crutches, after her incredible survival after being lost in rugged West Coast bush for six weeks.

In Crooks' only interview about her amazing survival ordeal, the 36-year-old revealed to the Weekend Herald last weekend she kept herself alive by eating bugs and plants for almost a month.

Medics allowed the brave survivor to return home this week where she has been continuing her recovery, surrounded by family and well-wishers.

John Crooks said his daughter is recovering steadily and while she still has a long road ahead of her, the family - including Shelley's four children - are thrilled to have her home.


"It's great to have her back," Crooks said.

"Shelley is healing well but there's still some time to go. Nutritionists have still got her on a strict diet and want her to be careful not to over eat.

"She is still in a wheelchair but is able to stand up now and take steps with the help of crutches, but she can't do it unassisted yet."

Crooks said his family have been deeply humbled by the support of Opotiki locals.

"We can't thank the community of Opotiki and our whanau enough. It's been massive for us," he said.

Injured and unable to walk after a tramping trip gone horribly wrong, Crooks was without food, shelter, medical supplies, phone or radio communication and lost in dense bush for six weeks. Her situation was as desperate as it gets and getting bleaker by the hour.

But through sheer determination, she battled on until a stroke of luck saw another tramper, conservation volunteer Alex Morley, cross her path - a figure a disoriented Crooks mistook for an angel.

The key to her survival was figuring out how to avoid starving for another four weeks. Remarkably, she managed it by eating off the forest floor.

"My pack had three tins of baked beans with sausages, three packets of dried noodles, a small tin of condensed milk and 10 sachets of soup. It lasted about two weeks. I then had to survive off bugs and plants," Crooks told the Weekend Herald.

"I was immobilised for weeks after I'd run out of food and done damage to my legs.

"In that four-week period, I lived on just plants and bugs."

Crooks said her situation was caused by a change in weather and not letting friends know she'd changed her plans. She said it saw her endure "the biggest mistake of my life."

Apologetic and thankful to everyone who took part in a major search and rescue mission, Crooks said the experience has been "a lesson I will never forget."