A Rotorua woman is encouraging others to get involved with the local LandSAR team if they love the outdoors.

Nola Turner is one of about seven women nationally to be an advanced operational tracker.

She says it being a part of LandSAR came about as her children had left home and she had always wanted to do something for the community where she was helping out individuals and families.

She loves the bush and was inspired by her cousin was also in Search and Rescue.


Nola has been in LandSAR for four years now and has been training for tracking for about 18 months. There are four courses to do, and then a qualifying course to become a tracker.

She says their tracking team meet every Thursday and disappear into the bush to practice tracking at night in pine and native bush.

Also, every couple of months they have an overnight expedition where they go out in the bush over the weekend and gel as a team, she says.

She says passing the operational tracking course held in Christchurch has been a highlight for her.

The course was over five days and they spent 48 hours out in the bush tracking.

At the end there was a theory lesson where they had to show they understood all the procedures, processes, and drills of tracking.

"It was a real buzz for me to pass. I was the only woman on the course."

She says patience, being observant and confidence were some of the important skills for tracking.

Nola says she loves being out in the bush because it is peaceful and serene.

"You go to places you would never dream of going, we very rarely walk on tracks.

"It's also great for your fitness, wellbeing and state of mind."

She fully encourages women to join Search and Rescue if they enjoy the outdoors and want to help people - "It's a real confidence boost".

She says it is great helping lost people reunite with their families, and although sometimes the outcome is a sad circumstance, it is still good to be able to bring closure to the family.

Nola says a night search near Lake Waikaremoana is one that stands out for her.

After being led to the wrong location by a signal, they eventually found the missing man who had a dislocated shoulder and a boy, about 14, with him at 5.30am.

She says they had been freezing and it had been pouring with rain.

The injured party was hoisted out and dropped off at a nearby hut, and he ended up having surgery, she says.

Nola says the boy wrote a card to thank them.

She says if anyone is keen to join Search and Rescue, or is interested in doing some volunteer work, they could go along and see what it is all about, as they often held induction evenings or weekends.

Nola says she would like to thank the Rotorua tracking team for all the hours of training help and support - "if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be where I am now".

"They taught me all my bad habits."

She also thanks her husband, as she would not have been able to do it without his support too.