The Rescue Coordination Centre is urging hunters heading out for the start of the season to arm themselves with distress beacons, after two rescues this week.

Two hunters were rescued on the West Coast north of Haast yesterday morning after setting off their distress beacon at 9am.

RCCNZ, which is part of Maritime New Zealand, co-ordinated the rescue and sent a rescue helicopter from Greymouth to assist the pair.

Senior search and rescue officer Greg Johnston said the hill had started slipping away from under the hunters' feet.


"They found themselves in a life-threatening situation and made the decision to request help before the situation got worse."

On Tuesday two people activated their distress beacon after finding themselves in trouble in Fiordland.

The hunters had been separated from their inflatable boat and were in peril in a rapidly rising river.

Southern Lakes Helicopters assisted the pair, who Johnston said could have been in serious danger.

Johnston said distress beacons became crucial for hunters in trouble if they didn't have cell signal.

"If you feel that your life is in grave or imminent danger, you should first try to use two-way communications such as a phone or radio so that you can talk to emergency services," he said.

Mid-March to mid-April is a popular time for hunters, due to stags being more vocal than usual in the mating season.