The worried mother of a Russian tourist in New Zealand sent out an SOS on Facebook after thinking her daughter was lost hiking the Te Araroa trail.

Using Google Translate, Luiza Kim managed to mobilise a group of compassionate Kiwis into alerting police about her daughter, who was hiking solo in Northland's Herekino forest.

A Search and Rescue [LandSAR] team was sent to find Valeria Mikhailova, who had been safe and well the entire time.

She sent her family a message from a personal location beacon on Sunday evening saying she was bunking down unexpectedly due to bad weather, but her mother misinterpreted the message.


"My mum, she got me wrong and then she started getting worried," Mikhailova told the Herald.

"[Search and rescue] found me yesterday afternoon, I was pretty surprised to be honest."

Mikhailova, 27, arrived in New Zealand a week ago with plans to hike the Te Araroa trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff, a dream she'd held for years.

Her message was sent intending to tell her mum she was fine, but a change of plans due to bad weather meant she was bunking down for the night in a hut rather than carrying on.

Back in Moscow, Kim saw she'd received four alerts from her daughter, who was travelling solo for the first time.

Thinking the alerts must mean her daughter was in trouble, Kim, who does not speak any English, posted to a Te Araroa Facebook page saying she was worried for her daughter's safety.

Using Google Translate, Kim managed to speak with several Kiwis on the page, including one man who was a Search and Rescue volunteer.

He called police, who sent a search team out to find Mikhailova using the co-ordinates sent by her location device.


Police confirmed they had been called to search for a missing tourist at 10.45 yesterday morning, finding her by 3.30pm.

"It is encouraging that the woman in this instance was carrying a device which could help her to raise the alarm if she ran into trouble and we're glad in this instance she was okay," police sergeant Clifford Metcalfe said.

"Police does however recommend that people spend time to ensure they know how to use their devices before setting out on a tramp."

Valeria Mikhailova's mother thought she had become lost in the forest in Northland. Photo / Supplied
Valeria Mikhailova's mother thought she had become lost in the forest in Northland. Photo / Supplied

Mikhailova said others she had sent the alert to had understood what she meant.

"I don't know why my mum was worrying so much - I guess because she's a mum."

She was impressed her mum, who was so worried she didn't sleep at all night, had managed to communicate despite not speaking any English.

"I'm so surprised so many people here supported my mum when she was so worried.

"This is priceless to be honest because from the other end of the world she got supported."

Mikhailova said both she and her mum were amazed at the kindness of those who helped out.

The young tourist, who works for a media company back in Russia, said she was happy to see people so willing to help, but was sincerely sorry a search team had been sent out when it didn't need to be.

She will be spending the next two months in New Zealand hiking.