An elderly man who went for an afternoon stroll to admire stunning Queen Charlotte Sound views sparked a major rescue operation when he took a wrong turn.

Police say they were called about 2.50pm when a 70-year-old Picton man became lost walking through private land to join the famed Tirohanga Track.

After missing the turning point for the track he ended up disorientated in steep scrub on private property near Essons Valley.

The man used his cellphone and was able to let searchers know where he was.

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He told police he was struggling to find his way out and needed help. He then stayed put to await rescue.

Marlborough Volunteer Search and Rescue staff found him just after 5pm but because of the challenging terrain it took an additional hour to get up to his position.

Police said the man was cold but in high spirits and very pleased to see the rescue team.

"The terrain was very steep and challenging, and I would like to thank the search team and support team for their hard work in locating the missing man and getting him back down safely," said team leader Peter Hamill.

Police said it was a reminder to anyone planning to head out on any kind of walk or tramp to make sure they were adequately prepared should anything go wrong, even if they are only planning on being gone a short time.

They advised people to take essentials such as a cigarette lighter, personal locator beacon, compass or GPS, whistle, map, food and a survival blanket.