Two members of the public and the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation came to the rescue of an 80-year-old woman who broke her leg on a walk near Taupo.

The rescue was one of four the organisation carried out yesterday, with issues ranging from leg injuries to breathing difficulties.

Organisation member Luke Middleton said details were "sketchy" when they received the call, however it became clear the woman needed urgent assistance.

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A member of the public assisting the woman shortly after midday initially called 111, but the call was then transferred to the Rescue Helicopter line.

Middleton said the ambulance staff who took the call took some details around injuries and the patient's location and passed them on.

"You get that single phone call from the mountain but it's not necessarily easy to keep that caller on to get all the details," he said.

Two men who came across the woman while walking had piggybacked her to a lower level to make it easier for help to reach her. Photo / Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation
Two men who came across the woman while walking had piggybacked her to a lower level to make it easier for help to reach her. Photo / Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation

It was lucky several members of the public had been around to assist the woman, he said, as it "wasn't ideal conditions" for an injured 80-year-old to be waiting around for a rescue.

"A couple of men were able to piggyback her down to a lower level and provide assistance before we could get there."

When Middleton and his crew arrived at the scene he said the patient was "in good spirits", but needed transportation to hospital.

"It was bandaged and splinted rudimentary, she had a couple of broken walking poles that had been used for that splint."

She was then taken to Rotorua Hospital.


According to the Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation's Facebook page, the woman's leg was broken near Emerald Lakes.

"Some good Samaritans carried her past Blue Lake toward Ketetahi which got her low enough that when the cloud lifted slightly we could get Greenlea in to her!"

The rescue was the last of four the rescue organisation assisted with yesterday.

"Busy day in the central North Island today with four separate search and rescue jobs within the Tongariro National Park.

Fortunately we were able to use the Taupo Greenlea rescue helicopter which we train with regularly and is perfectly suited to the adverse weather conditions we faced at altitude. This coupled with the local knowledge of the pilot and crew it is an irreplaceable asset for us especially in the cloudy rainy conditions," the post said.

The first two of the jobs were "slips and trips" that happened on Saturday morning.

"I wasn't present for them, but they were both leg injuries on the southern side of Mt Ruapehu," Middleton said.

"With that nature of injury it's very difficult, or painful for someone to walk, or be moved out any other way. So the helicopter in both those cases was able to provide assistance and get them to the medical care they needed."

Middleton assisted with a third rescue shortly around midday, when a middle aged woman at Red Crater was having breathing difficulties and had become hypothermic.

A helicopter was "rapidly" deployed to the spot, around the halfway mark of the Tongariro Crossing, and the woman was transported to safety.

Middleton praised the work of those involved in the rescues, as well as the members of the public who helped prior to the team arriving on scene.