An Australian tramper who broke her ankle while walking the Tongariro Crossing is seeking her rescuers, who carried her out, so she can thank them.

Ilse Arndt and her husband Frank were halfway through the popular walk on April 7 when disaster struck.

"I slipped on some scree and my foot went between two rocks, then I snapped and broke my ankle," Arndt said.

The weather had turned and the rescue helicopter was not going to be able to land where Arndt had fallen.


But six good Samaritans came to her rescue.

"A young woman came up to me firstly and she said she was a nurse, so she splinted up my ankle," Arndt said.

A group of five men then supported Ilsa down the mountain, as she hobbled on one foot.

"Then it was just taking too long so one of the men piggy-backed me for quite some time until we reached the helicopter," Arndt said.

She is unsure how long the men carried her down or the time it took from when she broke her ankle to when they reached the helicopter.

"Time sort of stands still, but the weather was just horrendous and I was really worried about one of the younger ones who was absolutely freezing, shaking like a leaf and I was so worried he would get hypothermia."

Arndt said she was so grateful for the men, who would not leave her by herself.

"They still would have had to walk out probably four hours, easy, in that weather as well."


"They were just brilliant and I can't thank them because I don't know who they are - I really probably owe them my life," Arndt said.

Arndt said she was hugely grateful for the Rotorua-based BayTrust Rescue Helicopter service - the future of which is uncertain.

The National Ambulance Sector Office's (NASO) call for air ambulance services proposals does not include Rotorua or Taupo, which are the bases for the BayTrust and Greenlea rescue helicopters respectively.

The list of regions where air ambulances would be based under the new system would come into effect on November 1. Under the proposal, the closest bases would be in Tauranga, Hamilton and Palmerston North.

Arndt said she was appalled at the proposal.

"When you're up there it doesn't take long before somebody dies and now we have winter coming up – what are they thinking," she said.

"It's a matter of life and death and it's such a stupid thing to even contemplate it (moving the base from Rotorua) people don't realise how important these helicopters are."

Arndt said she had all the right equipment and she is an experienced bush walker.

"This was just an accident and it's just people sitting in an office, their lives never been on the line, making these decisions for cost cutting – what's a life worth? I was angry before it happened to me, when I heard it on the news, and I thought – they're bonkers."

Arndt is now recovering in Rotorua Hospital, after having a metal plate put in her ankle.

She will be discharged when she gets comfortable on her crutches and will return back to Victoria.

"If I find the people who want to make this decision to take the helicopter away I will wallop them with my crutches," she said.

In the last two weeks police and LandSAR in the Central North Island have rescued numerous people off Mt Tongariro.

Police are concerned that some people do not understand the weather risks associated with hiking in an alpine environment.

"The forecast for this week includes snow down to 700m, which means it will be extremely cold in the mountains and there is a high risk of hypothermia if ill prepared," said Senior Constables Barry Shepherd of Taupo police.

Last weekend two people were rescued and the previous weekend nine people were rescued within Tongariro National Park.