A distress beacon and the actions of a group of trampers have saved the life of an Australian overnight

The Australian man activated his distress beacon after coming into bad weather and rugged terrain in the Tararua Ranges, north of Wellington at 6pm on Sunday.

The man, who was tramping with a friend, activated his beacon near Kime Hut.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) dispatched a Wellington Life Flight helicopter but low cloud and difficult flying conditions in the mountains prevented it getting near the hut, RCCNZ Senior Search and Rescue Officer Mike Roberts said.

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The helicopter landed the search and rescue team as close as it could but that still left them with a seven-hour tramp through the night to reach the man.

Meanwhile, the man had managed to stagger to a hut where, by chance, there was already a group of five other trampers.

"They warmed him and fed him, helping his body temperature stabilise until a LandSAR team arrived at about 3am," Roberts said.

A LandSAR team eventually got to the severely hypothermic man this morning who said the trampers who helped the man had saved his life.

He had registered his beacon at his home in Australia, and told his emergency contacts what his plans were.

"That meant we could speak to his emergency contacts and get details we needed about where he was going, what equipment he had with him, his experience and anything that the paramedics might need to know."

At about 11am this morning the man was helped to Field Hut where he was picked up by a Philips Search and Rescue Trust helicopter from Palmerston North.

A second LandSAR team was tasked in case weather prevented the helicopter landing and the man had to be carried out.

Fortunately the weather cleared, and he was flown to Palmerston North for treatment and is understood to be recovering well.