Members of Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter team have been rewarded for their work on a daring rescue in the Tongariro National Park.

They were presented with the New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) Certificate of Achievement for Operational Activity on Tuesday night in recognition of the rescue.

On the June 18 last year the team were called to help in the search and recovery of four missing hikers in the Tongariro National Park.

The rescue was carried out in fading light and freezing conditions and was the ultimate example of teamwork and co-ordination.


Presented by Associate Minister of Transport Craig Foss, the NZSAR award was made in recognition of important contributions to search and rescue in New Zealand.

The hikers, who had been caught out by the setting sun and the cold conditions, were located on the western slopes of Mt Ngauruhoe.

The steep mountain slopes turned into a solid sheet of ice, so slick and hard that all four experienced and well- quipped hikers fell.

They were all separated and perched on the icy slopes between about 2000m and 2130m, sustaining injuries ranging from cuts and bruises, to fractured bones and the onset of hypothermia.

The helicopter team flew in two rescue teams and hover-loaded them out onto the slopes in the dark.

The teams performed the difficult and dangerous task of trekking to and stabilising the injured climbers, before anchoring themselves to the steep slope to allow for the rescue helicopter to return and pluck the injured from the slopes one by one.

Base manager and pilot Nat Every said it was a well-run, highly organised rescue, involving search and rescue teams from Turangi, the police, Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation and St John Ambulance

"But, without Greenlea's support this mission, and many others, may not have been possible", he said.

Representatives from Greenlea Premier Meats attended the award ceremony, including managing director Tony Eagan.

"Greenlea is privileged to work with the Philips Search & Rescue Trust in supporting the Taupo-based rescue helicopter. We congratulate the men who participated in this heroic rescue, and we thank all of those who generously provide their time and service to provide these often life-saving missions."

The Greenlea helicopter is one of six rescue helicopters operated by Philips Search and Rescue Trust, New Zealand's largest air rescue organisation.

Secretary David Wickham said the trust were extremely proud of the team and fellow search and rescue organisations who train tirelessly to ensure they were rescue ready for situations like this one.