A Canadian tramper who suffered a serious fall on a steep slope has described how he battled the cold, the bush and a serious arm injury to reach safety, and eventual rescue.
Greg Ross, 63, who was visiting New Zealand on holiday, first ventured out into the Westland bush on Easter Monday and headed to the remote Frisco hutat Kowhitirangi, inland from Hokitika, where he planned to clear the helipad of vegetation.
Mr Ross got to within a couple of kilometres of the hut, on a track he said had completely changed from when he last took it 31 years ago. On a steep slope not far from the hut, he suffered a serious fall.
"The next thing I was going along it and I slipped, caught my arm on a stump, with all the weight of my pack and me going fast down the mountainside, my arm caught everything, pop crack, bang, out like this.
"I thought it was being ripped off, in great agony I managed to get back up there - and very slowly crawl around to a little open patch on the track. I thought I'm not moving from there, I'm in deep shock."
Drawing on decades of tramping experience in the bush in New Zealand and abroad, Mr Ross took off his boots and got into his sleeping bag, where he stayed for the next two days.
But as he began to gradually slide down the slope, becoming more and more cut off from all of his equipment, he started to suffer the affects of serious dehydration.
He realised that getting to the hut was his only realistic chance of survival.
"I thought that if I sit here for six days, and on just one of those days it rains, that'll kill me, of hypothermia."
The 63-year-old then spent the next three hours crawling 500 metres, using only his knees and one working arm, up the steep slope up to the monkey scrub. He then traversed along the upper slopes until he spotted the hut, about 700ft below him.
After another three and a half hours gradually sliding down the slope, and having to backtrack several times, he eventually "popped out at the door of the hut".
He grabbed a billy can, filled it up at the stream, and took a big gulp of water. He then slid between two foam mattresses in the otherwise deserted hut, and lay there for the next seven days, without food, praying for rescue.
Mr Ross put his survival entirely down to being able to reach the Frisco hut.
"After I got to the hut I had a total of at least 48 hours of heavy, cold rain. Every night it was clear up there, everything was freezing solid. I thought probably just one of those nights of rain in the sleeping bag would have done me in.
"Without the mattress blanket, I would have died, probably after two or three nights."
Greymouth senior constable Mike Tinnelly said that Mr Ross had left "very clear intentions" of his plans with a friend in Hokitika.
When Mr Ross failed to show by 8pm last night, his friend alerted police, who worked their way through his schedule, until they found him at the hut.
Mr Ross was rescued by helicopter about 10am today. Despite being cold, wearing no boots and having suffered a serious dislocation, he was in good spirits. After being checked over at Grey Base Hospital, he was discharged and driven back to Hokitika by police.
He said that despite years of tramping experience, the event had forced him to re-think his entire approach to travelling in the wilderness.
"I relied on my experience, it got me through this time, it got me through in the past, but these days with modern technology, there's no real excuse. If I go out in future I will carry a beacon and I will go with other people."